The game opened with a play challenge that went against the Eagles and ended with one that went their way.

In between, the Eagles' 30-27 win over Denver was a roller-coaster.

There were 18 penalties, countless official conferences, one challenge, an ejection, and a game-deciding review during a game that lasted 3 hours and 34 minutes.

"I can't really remember a game like that," Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "It was little weird. I mean, there was a lot of ups and downs and weird stuff going on, but we kept fighting and came through."

In the end, the Eagles escaped with the victory yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Even though they batted .500 on the two close calls, the latter decision - which was ruled in the Eagles' favor - was substantially more important than the first.

With the score knotted, 27-27, and a little over a minute remaining, quarterback Donovan McNabb hit Jeremy Maclin for what appeared to be a 27-yard reception that would have advanced the Eagles to the Broncos' 12-yard line. But the receiver was ruled out of bounds on the diving sideline catch.

"I was very confident," Maclin said. "I immediately got up and told Coach [Andy] Reid to challenge it, but I forgot it was under two minutes."

Because it was a bang-bang play, the officials called for an instant-replay review. Booth officials apparently saw enough to overturn the original ruling.

"It was tough because one foot came down, and the other foot came up and then went back down," Reid said. "That's a tough, tough call there. But that's why we have replay, so it all worked out."

For the Eagles.

Three short runs later, David Akers booted the game-winning 28-yard field goal for the 11-4 Eagles' sixth straight win.

The Broncos have now lost seven of their last nine games, have dropped to 8-7, and are seemingly out of playoff contention. There was no second-guessing of the replay, however.

"I just go by what they tell me," Denver coach Josh McDaniels said. "They ruled it a catch, so we have to play defense."

The closest Denver defender thought Maclin's snag was a good one.

"I watched the replay, and it did appear his feet were down," Broncos cornerback Andre Goodman said.

In light of the victory and the fact that the final call went in their favor, there was no harping from the Eagles on the one Broncos' challenge that took a Philadelphia touchdown off the board in the first quarter.

On that play, Denver's Kyle Orton threw a pass roughly parallel to the line of scrimmage in the direction of tight end Daniel Graham as defensive end Juqua Parker bore down on the quarterback. It appeared as if Orton might have thrown the ball backward, and there was no whistle indicating the play was over. Eagle Dimitri Patterson picked up the ball and raced 23 yards for an apparent TD.

McDaniels challenged, contending that Orton threw forward. It was very close. The booth officials, though, concurred with the Broncos coach, and Denver punted.

Still, there were plenty of key calls that went in the Eagles' favor, other than the Maclin catch. The most pivotal occurred in the fourth quarter on Denver's possession before the Eagles' game-winning drive. With the Broncos moving from their own 10-yard line, Orton hit Brandon Lloyd for a 15-yard gain on a second-and-9 play. But the first down was wiped out because Denver guard Chris Kuper was called for holding.

Denver finished with nine penalties for 95 yards. Receiver Brandon Stokley was penalized for a personal foul when he argued that he was interfered with. He was also ejected because he slapped the official's hand.

The Eagles, who were the second-most penalized team in the NFL entering the game, didn't escape the notice of the officials. They drew nine flags for 59 yards.

"I don't like the penalties," Reid said. "We have to take care of those. We have to be smart."

The worst penalty occurred after Asante Samuel's third-quarter interception. Safety Macho Harris was called for a personal foul when he pummeled Tony Scheffler just after the pick. Samuel was also called for delay-of-game when he spiked the ball after his 40-yard return.

"I don't really know who or what the second penalty was for," Samuel said. "I threw the ball up or something."

Instead of having the ball on their own 48, the Eagles were forced to start from their own 1. They led, 27-10, at the time. But they were forced to punt, and that's when Denver's rally began.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.