Quarterback Gary Kubiak, who entered the game early in the second half in place of injured starter John Elway, threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Clarence Kay in the fourth period that gave the Denver Broncos a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals today.
The Broncos led, 13-3, when Elway suffered a slight separation of his left shoulder on the first series of the second half. The Bengals then had two drives end in one-yard touchdown runs by James Brooks and Larry Kinnebrew. On the first, they went 60 yards, 34 on a pass from kick formation by punter Pat McInally to Stanford Jennings. On the second, they went 74 yards.
"I keep telling the team the key to winning is to overcome adversity," said Broncos Coach Dan Reeves. "But I meant over a period of time, not all at once."
Kubiak, a second-year pro out of Texas A&M, rallied the Broncos to their seventh straight victory, completing six of eight passes on a 75-yard drive midway through the final quarter. Wide receiver Butch Johnson caught three passes for 31 yards during the possession.
Cincinnati had two late chances to win. The Bengals advanced to Denver's 30-yard line with two minutes to go, but Charles Alexander fumbled and safety Mike Harden recovered. In the closing seconds, after the Bengals crossed midfield, linebacker Tom Jackson knocked down a pass on third and 10, and linebacker Karl Mecklenburg sacked Anderson on fourth down.
Until the game-winning drive, the Bengals had shut down the Broncos' offense with Kubiak at quarterback, limiting them to one first down -- on a penalty.
With the Bengals leading, 3-0, on Jim Breech's 46-yard second-quarter field goal, Elway scrambled to his left on a third and nine at Cincinnati's 25 and the extra time allowed Johnson to sprint free of cornerback Louis Breeden and catch a scoring pass. The extra point kick missed.
Broncos' cornerback Steve Wilson, playing for the injured Louis Wright, made a diving interception moments later. Rolling to his left, Elway arched a 40-yard pass to Steve Watson to the five-yard line and, two plays later, rookie Gene Lang jumped over from one yard for a 13-3 lead.