Nobody’s overlooking 5-foot-8 Phillip Lindsay anymore, not with the way he’s run the Broncos right back into playoff contention.
The rookie rushed for a career-high 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns Sunday as Denver adapted to a windy afternoon and got its third straight victory, 24-10 over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Broncos (6-6) have emerged from their bye week and knocked off the Chargers, Steelers and Bengals to stay in contention in December.
“Four games left, and they’ve got to be our best four,” linebacker Von Miller said. “We took a long way to get there, and there’s still a long way to go.”
Denver handled an unseasonably warm day: 66 degrees at kickoff with wind gusts up to 40 mph that redirected kicks and throws. The plan was to give it to their 190-pound running back and let him live up to his new nickname.
They’ve started calling him “Pit Bull.”
“I like it,” said Lindsay, who really didn’t have a choice in the matter. “The defensive line gave me the name. When the defensive line gives you a name, you take it.”
He took it and ran with it, just like he has since he joined the Broncos as an undrafted rookie from Colorado.
“Oh man, I’m so happy he’s on our team,” defensive lineman Domata Peko said. “In training camp and OTAs he was wearing No. 2 and all the guys were like, ‘Who the hell is No. 2? He’s making all these plays on us, man.’
“And now the whole word knows it’s Phillip Lindsay, man.”
Lindsay ran for TDs of 6 yards and 65 yards — the longest of his career — as Denver got up 21-3 in the third quarter and closed it out against the unraveling Bengals (5-7), who lost for the sixth time in seven games. Lindsay’s two touchdowns matched his career high.
Lindsay also became the first undrafted rookie in Broncos history to top 1,000 combined yards rushing and receiving in a season.
“I don’t know what else to say about him except the league knows about him, opponents know about him and key on stopping him, but he continues to do so,” said Case Keenum, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. “He’s having a heck of a year.”
The Bengals’ season continues to implode under 16th-year coach Marvin Lewis, who has also coordinated the defense in the last three losses. The crowd of 44,392 was the smallest at Paul Brown Stadium since 2011.
The Bengals lost Andy Dalton to a torn ligament in his passing thumb last week. Jeff Driskel made his first NFL start Sunday and went 25 of 38 for 236 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and four sacks.
Standout receiver A.J. Green returned after missing three games with an injured toe on his right foot, hoping to give the Bengals’ offense a lift, but he lasted only one quarter. Green reinjured the foot while running a route and came off the field for perhaps the last time this season, slamming his helmet on the ground before leaving on a cart.
“He was obviously battling just to play,” Bengals receiver Alex Erickson said. “I’m sure it’s devastating to him and to the team.”
Broncos: LB Brandon Marshall was inactive for the fourth straight game with a knee injury. He practiced last week and was listed as questionable. CB Chris Harris Jr. broke his lower right leg in the first quarter. DE Derek Wolfe suffered a rib injury in the second quarter.
Bengals: LB Vontaze Burfict suffered a concussion in the second half.
Cincinnati was penalized eight times in the first half, its most in an opening half since 2009. The Bengals finished with 12 penalties for 100 yards.
FEELING THE LOVE
Peko was one of the Bengals’ most popular players during his 11 seasons in Cincinnati, when he’d urge the crowd to get loud during games. Fans cheered him throughout his first game back at Paul Brown Stadium.
“It felt really good to get the love from the fans,” Peko said. “Being here for 11 seasons, I was always getting the crowd loud.”
NOTHING TO SAY
Fans in the upper deck tape a large banner to the front of a seating section before each game. On Sunday, they taped up a blank banner — nothing left to say about this season.
Broncos: play at the 49ers next Sunday.
Bengals: play at the Chargers next Sunday.
AROUND THE NFL
–The Los Angeles Rams put together a fourth-quarter push to clinch the NFC West and moving ahead of New Orleans for the best record in the conference. Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams knocked off the Lions, 30-16 in Detroit. Los Angeles led just 16-13 until Gurley scored on fourth-quarter runs of 13 and two yards. Jared Goff had a quiet afternoon for the high-powered Rams, completing 17 of 33 for 207 yards, one TD and one interception. Aaron Donald helped seal the win by forcing Matthew Stafford to fumble midway through the fourth quarter, leading to Gurley’s first touchdown. The Rams are 11-1 and one game ahead of the Saints in the battle for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
— The Chiefs are an AFC-best 10-2 after Patrick Mahomes threw for 295 yards and four more touchdowns in a 40-33 shootout win over the Raiders in Oakland. He connected on two short touchdown passes to Travis Kelce in the first half and joined Peyton Manning and Tom Brady to throw for 40 TDs through 12 games. Spencer Ware ran for 47 yards and a score in his first start since Kansas City released running back Kareem Hunt over his assault of a woman in February.
— Bill Belichick earned his 250th coaching victory and Tom Brady threw for 311 yards and a score as the Patriots dumped the Vikings, 24-10. Brady is now tied with Peyton Manning for the most scoring passes in the regular season and playoffs with 579, and he’s tied for third with 508 regular-season TD passes. James Develin added a career-high two touchdown runs as the 9-3 Patriots won for the eighth time in nine games and dropped the Vikings to 6-5-1.
— Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired to send the Chargers to a 33-30 victory at Pittsburgh. Badgely had three attempts to win it, but the Steelers were called for offsides on the first two tries before he sent the 9-3 Chargers to victory. Philip Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns, and Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a score. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores for the Steelers, whose lead in the AFC North is down to a half-game over Baltimore.
— Rookie Lamar Jackson ran for a touchdown and the Ravens’ defense turned in a dominating performance, leading to a 26-16 victory over the feeble Falcons. Justin Tucker kicked four field goals and Tavon Young scored after scooping up a fumble by Matt Ryan. Baltimore held the Falcons to just 131 total yards and improved to 3-0 since Jackson replaced the injured Joe Flacco.
— The Bears scored 10 points over the final 73 seconds of regulation, only to suffer a 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants. Aldrick Rosas drilled a go-ahead, 44-yard field goal in OT before New York stopped Chicago on downs to end the Bears’ five-game winning streak. Odell Beckham Jr. grabbed a short TD pass on fourth down and tossed his second scoring strike of the season by hitting Russell Shepard on a 49-yard option throw.
— Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and the Texans intercepted rookie Baker Mayfield three times, returning one for a score in their ninth straight win, 29-13 over the Browns. Lamar Miller had 103 yards rushing and DeAndre Hopkins had seven receptions for 91 yards. Houston extended its team-record winning streak and became the first team to win nine in a row immediately following an 0-3 start.
— The Seahawks blew past the 49ers, 43-16 as Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdowns on just four completions. Wilson also had a fourth TD toss and was 11 of 17 for 185 yards. The 7-5 Seahawks stayed in the middle of the NFC playoff race by jumping to a 20-0 lead and cruising to their ninth straight victory over their NFC West foe.
— The Jaguars delivered one of the most dominant defensive performances in franchise history, carrying the team to a 6-0 victory against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars needed that kind of effort to make up for a lackluster offense and end a seven-game skid while also snapping Indy’s five-game winning streak. Luck completed 33 of 52 passes for 248 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times.
—Zane Gonzalez kicked a 44-yard field goal with 1:41 left before Green Bay’s Mason Crosby missed a 49-yard attempt as time expired to send the Cardinals to a 20-17 victory. Crosby pushed his kick wide right, with the flags atop Lambeau Field blowing in toward the field at the time of the kick.
— The Titans erased a 16-point deficit and downed the Jets, 26-22 on Marcus Mariota’s 11-yard scoring pass to Corey Davis with 36 seconds left. Mariota heard boos midway through the game before finishing 20 of 35 for 282 yards, two TDs and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Mariota also led the 6-6 Titans with 42 yards rushing and helped Tennessee send the 3-9 Jets to their sixth consecutive loss.
— Jameis Winston threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Buccaneers to a 24-17 victory over the reeling Panthers. The Bucs won for the second straight time since Winston regained his starting job with team mired in a four-game losing streak. The Panthers have lost four straight after a 6-2 start.
— Jordan Phillips drew a costly penalty for taunting his former team, setting up a touchdown with nine minutes left that helped the Dolphins rally past the Bills 21-17. Miami turned away two Bills drives down the stretch.