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DENVER 24, CINCINNATI 23

Bengals botch chance at end

December 25, 2006|From the Associated Press

DENVER — The playoffs are slipping right through the Cincinnati Bengals' fingers.

The Bengals lost to Denver, 24-23, on a snowy Sunday when Brad St. Louis' snap on an extra point in the final minute sailed wide of holder Kyle Larson, preventing Shayne Graham from even attempting his 159th straight conversion.

"That only happens on PlayStation games," Broncos lineman Kenard Lang said. "I'm sitting there amazed."

The Bengals were offside on the ensuing on-side kick, and then Quincy Morgan fielded the short second kickoff, sealing the win for Denver (9-6), which can clinch a playoff spot with a win next week against San Francisco.

Needing only to beat the Broncos to get into the postseason, the Bengals (8-7) drove 90 yards in 12 plays, with Carson Palmer throwing a 10-yard touchdown strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 46 seconds left.

Then came the wide and wobbly snap that doomed the Bengals, who now must beat Pittsburgh at home next week and get some help to get into the playoffs.

Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis was kicking himself afterward.

"I thought about going for two," he said. "But that doesn't matter now, does it?"

The Broncos, some of whom were snowed in at their practice facility during the week when a blizzard dumped three feet of snow on the city, felt like the weather did them a favor.

"The snow came along at the right time, I guess," Broncos receiver Rod Smith said.

"When the ball is a little slick like that, there is always an opportunity for that to happen, especially when the pressure is on," Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan said.

The Bengals didn't blame rattled nerves or bad weather.

"I didn't put the ball in Kyle's hands," St. Louis said.

"We've done it a thousand times," Larson said. "We didn't execute. It had nothing to do with a wet ball or conditions. We work on this every day in practice. I reached for it. The bottom line is we need to work together as a unit."

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