PHOENIX - While Peyton Manning watched, Denver's reserves pulled out a wild one in the desert.
Manning and the rest of the Broncos' starters took the fourth game of the preseason off. Denver got a 44-yard field goal from Matt Prater as the game ended to beat the Arizona Cardinals 16-13 on Thursday night.
Omar Bolden, a fourth-round draft pick from nearby Arizona State, returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to ignite a second-half comeback for Denver.
In contrast to the Broncos, Arizona used 10 starters on offense and 10 on defense in the game's first few series. The Cardinals' two candidates for starting quarterback, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, did not play.
Cardinals first-round draft pick Michael Floyd made a spectacular 22-yard touchdown catch.
Manning lounged on the Denver bench as backup Caleb Hanie played the first half. Under duress much of the time, Hanie completed 7 of 13 for 75 yards, but was sacked five times. Knowshon Moreno rushed seven times for 48 yards in the first half for Denver (2-2).
Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State, started for Arizona (1-4) and completed 14 of 26 for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was 9 of 13 for 101 yards and a touchdown in the first half with no interceptions, and that was supposed to be it for him. But he was forced back into the game late in the third quarter when Rich Bartel left with a right shoulder injury.
Lindley was picked off by Syd'Quan Thompson with just over six minutes to go to set up Matt Prater's 43-yard field goal that put Denver ahead 13-10 with 4:25 to play. But Lindley found Isaiah Williams behind the secondary for a 56-yard pass that set up Jay Feely's tying 35-yard field goal with 52 seconds to go.
Then fourth-string quarterback Adam Weber threw 50 yards to Greg Orton to set up the winning kick.
"I was pleased with Ryan," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said at halftime. "As a young guy, he didn't seem fazed. He's done exactly what he's done all camp -- good reads, good decisions, got the ball out, so it was a good start for him."
Lindley said he thought the offense "did a pretty good job."
"It felt great," he said. "I just want to go out there and show that I am improving every week."
Whisenhunt made it clear this week that Lindley was not a candidate for the starting job.
Arizona's Beanie Wells, in his second game since coming off postseason knee surgery, carried seven times for 35 yards.
Rookie Brock Osweiler, Bolden's teammate at Arizona State, played most of the second half for Denver, completing 3 of 7 passes for 36 yards.
Penalties negated a pair of big plays by the Broncos in the first half.
Drayton Florence's interception of Lindley's greatly underthrown deep pass was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Robert Ayers.
Arizona went on to complete a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive. Lindley, on the run, heaved into double coverage in the end zone and Floyd, the 13th player chosen in the draft, bobbled the ball but held on as he fell to the turf for a touchdown on the second play of the second quarter.
"I kept concentration on the ball the whole time," Floyd said. "Luckily the guy hit me in the back to go toward the ball, so it landed in my hands."
Lindley was surrounded by Arizona starters early in the game, while safety Adrian Wilson was the only Cardinals regular on defense who didn't play at least a little bit.
Lindley led the Cardinals downfield on their first possession, but Jay Feely's 40-yard field goal try careened off the left upright.
The Cardinals gave Denver a late scoring opportunity with the only turnover of the first half. Lindley passed to former San Diego State teammate DeMarco Sampson, who was hit by Steven Johnson. The ball popped free and Denver's Nate Irving recovered at the Arizona 21. But Hanie was sacked twice as the first half came to an end with Arizona up 7-0.
After Crezdon Butler intercepted Osweiler, Bartel's 52-yard pass to Williams set up Feely's 41-yard field goal that made it 10-0 in the third quarter.
Bolden gathered in the subsequent kickoff and made his way down the right sideline, tiptoeing just inside the line along the way to the end zone.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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