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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Wrap-up: Broncos 24, Bengals 22

By Jamison Hensley

Thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 24-22 loss at the Denver Broncos:

What it means: The Bengals missed an opportunity to take a one-game lead on the whole division because they couldn't complete the dramatic comeback against the banged-up Broncos. It would have been a strong start for a team that many predicted to finish at the bottom of the AFC North this season. This marked Cincinnati's ninth straight loss in Denver.

Dalton watch: Andy Dalton continued to show promise in his second NFL start as he tried to rally the Bengals from a 14-point deficit in the second half. The rookie second-round pick came in with an injured right wrist, but he continually took advantage of the short-handed secondary. Dalton finished with 332 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Thumbs up: Wide receiver A.J. Green is validating the Bengals' decision to use the fourth overall pick on him. He caught nearly everything thrown his way, making 10 receptions for 124 yards. His 5-yard touchdown grab showed great concentration and athleticism as he dragged his foot while falling out of bounds.

Thumbs down: The Bengals flopped on third down, failing to convert 10 of 11 chances. Cincinnati's secondary had trouble keeping up with Denver wide receiver Eric Decker, who scored two touchdowns. His final one was embarrassing because two Bengals defenders collided, which allowed Decker to walk into the end zone untouched.

Injury update: After the game, wide receiver Jordan Shipley walked on crutches while wearing a brace on his left knee.

What's next: The Bengals play their home opener next Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers.