DENVER – DeMarcus Ware came up with the big play he's been looking for ever since missing a month with a bad back, and it put the Denver Broncos into the playoffs.
Ware beat AJ McCarron to a fumbled snap in overtime, sending the Broncos into the postseason with a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
Ware's recovery followed a 37-yard field goal by Brandon McManus, whose shanked 45-yarder at the end of regulation made necessary the extra drama.
The Broncos (11-4) overcame a 14-0 first-half deficit in clinching their fifth consecutive playoff berth and denying the Bengals (11-4) their first road victory on a Monday night since 1990.
"There's an old saying: 'It's not how you start, it's how you finish,' " Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler said. "And this team finished great tonight."
Cincinnati also blew a chance to earn a bye in the playoffs.
Denver can earn the top seed in the AFC with a win over San Diego and a loss by New England at Miami next weekend.
McManus has missed a kick in five consecutive games, and the one at the end of regulation wasn't even close. It sailed wide left.
Denver won the toss to begin overtime, and drove 60 yards in 13 plays. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Owen Daniels limped off during the drive. Osweiler also banged an elbow in the frenetic final minutes but stayed in.
McManus then redeemed himself by splitting the uprights from 37 yards out.