The Denver Broncos out-gained the Cincinnati Bengals 160-95 and more than doubled the time of possessions, but trailed 13-7 at halftime of the matchup of the 3-6 teams. Turnovers once again cost Denver greatly. A 100-yard near pick-six and a major blown coverage assignment had the Broncos chasing the Bengals and trying to keep hold of a season quickly slipping away.

Losers of five straight games and six of their last seven, the Broncos received the opening kickoff needing to make a statement to a sparse (by Broncos standards) home crowd.

A holding penalty against Allen Barbre, a natural guard forced into action at right tackle, on the very first play of the game backed up Denver 10 yards. The left side of the line saw a breakdown on third-and-eight as left tackle Garett Bolles tripped and fell backwards, forcing Brock Osweiler to scramble. A one-yard gain would lead to Denver’s first punt of the game.

After weeks of being foiled on special teams, the Broncos turned the tables with a blocked punt on Cincinnati’s first possession. Following a quick three-and-out, Shaquil Barrett burst through the line to get a hand on Kevin Huber‘s punt attempt. Will Parks recovered the loose ball at the Bengals’ 29 to put the offense in prime position to put points on the board.

Osweiler scrambled for a first down on third-and-four to keep the offense marching towards the end zone on the ensuing possession, but things would derail on the next third down play. On third-and-three from the four-yard line, Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted Osweiler in the end zone and took the ball 100 yards only to fumble at the opposite one-yard line.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made Denver pay for the turnover, connecting with Tyler Kroft on a play-action fake on third down in the end zone. The miscues continued when Randy Bullock missed the point after the touchdown.

Denver’s depth receivers picked up Osweiler as the Broncos tried to answer, with Cody Latimer making a crucial 21-yard third-down reception to keep the drive alive. Bennie Fowler picked up 18 yards on his first catch of the day. That was important, because Demaryius Thomas dropped a second-down attempt that hit him right in the chest two plays later. That set up a third down that forced Osweiler to scramble two yards short of the line of gain when his protection broke down. Feeling the pressure of Denver’s five-game losing streak mounting, Vance Joseph and Mike McCoy decided to go for it on fourth-and-two from the Bengals’ 22. C.J. Anderson picked up some crucial yards after contact to convert the important fourth down. Devontae Booker bowled his way to another first down on THREE straight carries to set up first and goal. Osweiler was nearly intercepted as he threw a ball into no man’s land as he was being pulled to the ground on the next play, but Cincinnati could not close fast enough. McCoy went back to Anderson on the next two carries, and on third down Anderson picked up his second rushing touchdown of the year. Brandon McManus added the extra point to give the Broncos a 7-6 lead.

The score was Denver’s first touchdown scored in the first quarter in their last six games. The 75-yard drive used 6:25. Their one-point lead as the quarter came to an end was the first time they led that late in a game since their Week 4 victory over the Raiders. Denver out-gained Cincinnati 113-11 in the quarter, but led by just one point.

Dalton answered quickly though, connecting on a 29-yard pass to Brandon LaFell and then finding Alex Erickson for another 29 into the end zone. It was the 20th passing touchdown the Denver defense had allowed to that point this season. Last year, the defense allowed just 13 passing touchdowns for the entire season.

Emmanuel Sanders made his first catch of the game to give the Broncos a first down on the ensuing possession, but a dropped pass by Virgil Green on second down and a busted play on third down gave the ball back to Dalton and the Bengals quickly.

Derek Wolfe made Denver’s second big defensive play of the game to help slow Cincinnati’s momentum, sacking Dalton on third-and-six to force a quick change of possession. Jordan Taylor, making his debut at punt returner, took the kick 15 yards on the return but had 10 of them wiped out on an illegal block penalty.

After converting an early first down, Osweiler took a sack after protection quickly broke down and the Broncos faced a third-and-19. Anderson picked up 13, but Denver was forced to punt again. Riley Dixon did his part to flip the field, though, pinning Cincinnati back at their own eight-yard line with 5:32 to play.

The Denver defense responded with a quick three-and-out, and a friendly bounce on the punt gave Osweiler and the offense the ball at the Bengals’ 49.

A five-yard gain by Anderson on first down was wiped out on back-to-back negative yardage plays, including the second sack of Osweiler in the half, and the ball went right back to Cincinnati.

Dalton connected with A.J. Green for 13 yards on the first play of the next drive, but Denver held ground after that and forced another punt.

Cincinnati continued to bring pressure as time wound down on the half, but they were a bit overzealous and jumped offsides twice to help Denver get into Bengals territory.

Brandon McManus came on to attempt a 61-yard field goal, which the Broncos’ kicker nailed on his first attempt. Unfortunately, Marvin Lewis had called timeout just before the kick and McManus was forced to try another. His second attempt was blocked and the Bengals took a 13-7 lead into the half.

As always, the team at MHS was keeping a close eye on the action as the first half unfolded. Here’s how they saw things, along with some of our favorite follows, as the Broncos fought to keep their season alive.