Jim Asmus, who had missed two earlier field goal attempts, kicked an 18-yarder with one second remaining yesterday in Denver, lifting the Gold to a 16-13 U.S. Football League victory over the Houston Gamblers and clinching a playoff spot for the Gold.

The game drew only 12,553. Because of season-long poor attendance at Mile High Stadium, owner Doug Spedding has talked of moving the franchise next season.

Denver (11-5) squandered four scoring opportunities in the second quarter and one in the third quarter. Houston intercepted three of Bob Gagliano's passes in the end zone and Asmus missed 19- and 30-yard field goal tries.

But Asmus connected on a 40-yarder midway through the third quarter and a 47-yarder early in the final period for a 13-6 Denver lead.

Houston (9-7) drove 73 yards in five plays to tie the game on Todd Fowler's six-yard run with 8:02 left.

After an exchange of punts, Denver drove from its 27 to the Houston one, where Asmus kicked the clincher. Key plays on the drive were Gagliano passes of 27 yards to Marc Lewis and 20 yards to Lonnie Turner.

The game was delayed 19 minutes in the second quarter by lightning and heavy rain.