Late-season Bengals-Broncos tilt altered course of 1981 season

Will this week's MNF game produce epic air and ground performances like their past matchups?

The Denver Broncos host the Cincinnati Bengals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Monday night.

This is a comprehensive and contemporary historical look at the Bengals-Broncos all-time series and Monday night performances.

Monday Night Football history lesson

All-time records on Monday Night Football:
» Bengals: 11-21
» Broncos: 29-37-1

Bengals vs. Broncos on Monday Night Football:
» Total matchups: 2. The Bengals have won both meetings.
» Notable matchup: In Week 16 of last season, the Bengals hosted the Broncos in a showdown of playoff-bound teams. Trailing 28-27 entering the fourth quarter, the Bengals scored 10 unanswered points to prevail, 37-28. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a rough night. He threw four interceptions, including a pick six by Dre Kirkpatrick with less than three minutes to play. That was Manning's third interception. Moments later with the Broncos driving, Kirkpatrick sealed the victory with another interception.

One notable passing performance in series: In a pivotal late-season showdown during the 1981 season, the 8-3 Bengals hosted the 8-3 Broncos at Riverfront Stadium. Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson out-dueled Broncos quarterback Steve DeBerg in a 38-21 win. Anderson threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns, while DeBerg threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns (with two interceptions). This loss set the Broncos up for a late-season tumble, as Denver lost three of its last five games and missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. The Bengals, meanwhile, won four of their last five games to finish 12-4 and earn home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, which the team put to great use en route to Super Bowl XVI, the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance.

One notable rushing performance in series: In 2000, Bengals running back Corey Dillon posted a then-record 278 yards rushing in a 31-21 win over the Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Dillon's effort topped Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton's long-standing record of 275 yards from 1977. It took three years for another running back to break Dillon's mark, as Baltimore Ravens tailback Jamal Lewis had 295 yards rushing against the Cleveland Browns in 2003. In 2007, the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson -- in the middle of his rookie season -- rushed for 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers. Peterson's record still stands.

One famous MNF game

Bengals: The playoff-bound Bengals toppled the Buffalo Bills, 33-24, on a mid-November Monday night in 1975. It was Cincinnati's first win in three attempts on Monday Night Football. Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson threw for an astonishing 447 yards in what was a run-heavy era of pro football (1975 marked the second of two consecutive seasons in which Anderson led the NFL in passing yards). Speaking of the run game, Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson rushed for 197 yards and two touchdowns for the Bills. The Bengals went on to finish 11-3 that season, losing to the Oakland Raiders, 31-28, in the divisional playoffs.

Broncos: In their first year with Peyton Manning as the team's quarterback, the Broncos had gotten off to a sluggish 2-3 start and then dug themselves into a 24-0 halftime hole against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday Night Football during Week 6 of the 2012 season. Manning -- who had thrown a pick six in the first half -- threw three touchdown passes in the second half as the Broncos mounted an epic comeback. The Broncos scored 35 unanswered points for a shocking 35-24 win, and tying for the fourth-biggest regular-season comeback in NFL history. This dramatic victory was the start of an 11-game win streak to close out the 2012 season as the Broncos finished 13-3. Unfortunately for Denver, its season was cut short in a double-overtime divisional playoff thriller against the eventual Super Bowl championBaltimore Ravens.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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