On Denver's first drive they dominated the line of scrimmage, giving Willis McGahee ample room to move while protecting Kyle Orton. McGahee eventually plowed in from one yard out giving the Broncos and early 7-0 lead. The drive covered 15 plays and covered 80 yards eating up 8:30 off the clock.
The Bengals first drive expectedly featured a heavy dose of Cedric Benson, but ended near midfield when Benson was tripped up on third down just shy of the marker. The Bengals would start out missing their first three conversions on third and short.
The defense stiffened, however, in the second quarter, keeping Denver pinned in their own territory. After Brandon Lloyd went out with a groin injury, it left Kyle Orton with only two healthy wide receivers. Tim Tebow was pressed into action as a third wide out. After hitting Eric Decker over the middle into Bengal territory, Decker was stripped and Leon Hall picked up the fumble and returned it to the Denver 41. A Clint Boling holding penalty stalled the drive and Mike Nugent made it 7-3 with a 45 yard field goal.
Denver then responded with a drive that took them all the way down to the Bengals eight yard-line before Geno Atkins sacked him on third down. Matt Prater booted a 34 yarder to put the Broncos up 10-3 at the half.
The Broncos converted 5-7 third downs with the Bengals getting little pressure from their front seven. The Bengals were 0-4 on third down, the difference in the first half of play.
Following a three and out to start the half by Cincinnati, Denver drove 60 yards for a touchdown aided by a questionable roughing the passer call on Jonathan Fanene. Kyle Orton capped off the drive by hitting Eric Decker on a skinny post for the touchdown from 25 yards out. Ed Hochuli's crew once again saw a personal foul, this time for a phantom horse collar on Nate Clements.
On the ensuing drive, AJ Green made his presence felt, making two nice grabs to get the Bengals deep into Denver territory. The drive stalled, however, with the Bengals once again failing to convert a third down. Mike Nugent's 37 yard field goal made it 17-6.
After the Bengal defense held, the Bengals again drove into Denver territory keyed this time by Jerome Simpson on the receiving end from Andy Dalton. This time the Bengals found the end zone, with Dalton hitting Andre Caldwell from ten yards out. Marvin Lewis decided to go for two to try and pull the Bengals within a field goal, but a quick slant to Jerome Simpson was batted away.
That score seemed to energize the defense. After a holding penalty put Denver back to its own 10, Michael Johnson came around the right side and stripped Kyle Orton. Dometa Peko recovered on the Denver 14. Once again Cincinnati failed to convert a third down when a screen pass to Brian Leonard only gained nine yards. Mike Nugent kicked his third field goal to cut Denver's lead to 17-15.
Not cashing in proved costly as Denver cashed in to begin the fourth quarter. Nate Clements got turned around on a bootleg and Kyle Orton found Eric Decker for a 52 yard field goal raising the Denver advantage to nine at 24-15.
The Bengals weren't quitting though. After a Von Miller sack of Andy Dalton brought up a second and 23, Dalton split the Denver defense, hitting Jerome Simpson for 84 yards down to the Bronco seven yard line. AJ Green made an acrobatic grab in the end zone, somehow getting both feet down while twisting for the catch. Just like that, the deficit was again at two.
After forcing Denver three and out, Denver punter Britton Colquitt unleashed and 81 yard punt that would have pinned the Bengals back inside their own 20, but Denver was flagged for a penalty on the play. Brandon Tate returned the resulting punt to the Denver 45. Once again, though, the Bengals couldn't convert. Andy Dalton wound up a yard short on a third down scramble. On fourth down, Denver sniffed out a naked bootleg and Dalton's pass fell harmlessly short of AJ Green.
Denver took over on downs and forced the Bengals to burn their remaining timeout. Willis McGahee inexplicably allowed himself to be tackled out of bounds, stopping the clock. After a holding penalty on the punt, the Bengals took over at their own five with 2:25 left.
Dalton quickly moved the Bengals into Denver territory, but once and for all promise died. Dalton missed Jerome Simpson down the sideline after Simpson had gotten behind the defense. Then on second down Dalton took a fatal sack. The Bengals hopes ended when AJ Green couldn't pull one more rabbit out of his hat on fourth down.
The Bengals were inches away from making history in Denver today, but alas fell short too many times. A disappointed, but no doubt confident team will return home 1-1 for the home opener next Sunday against San Francisco.
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