CINCINNATI — 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.
LT Cordy Glenn was inactive for a second straight game with a bad back, prompting the Bengals to juggle their line. Guard Clint Boling started at left tackle, and Trey Hopkins started at guard. The line got three penalties for holding, two for false starts and one for an illegal block.
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: Travel to play at the 49ers next Sunday.
Bengals: Travel to play at the Chargers next Sunday.
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