The Cincinnati Bengals won their third straight game, defeating the Indianapolis Colts 27-17 before a season high 52,068 in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium. Indianapolis mounted a fourth quarter comeback, but the Bengals' defense and special teams units ensured the win.
The Colts took a page out of the Bengals playbook, winning the toss and electing to defer. The Bengals started with three straight Cedric Benson runs, but LB Pat Angerer submarined Benson on a third down run blitz to force a three and out on the first possession.
After Delone Carter ran twice for a first down, the Bengals defense forced a turnover. Nate Clements stripped Dallas Clark and Thomas Howard pounced on the loose ball giving the Bengals the ball at the Colts 44. Andy Dalton hit Jermaine Gresham on a play action pass for a 13 yard gain. Andre Caldwell picked up another 13 on a wide receiver screen that took the ball into the red zone. On third and four from the 11, Andy Dalton threw a corner route to AJ Green who easily outjumped Jerraud Powers for the touchdown, putting the Bengals up 7-0 early.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mike Nugent angled the ball to the left corner and Colts return man Joe Lefeged was brought down at his own seven yard line. Delone Carter ran the ball out from the shadow of the goalposts, and Curtis Painter made a nice throw under pressure to Reggie Wayne to push the ball out past the 30. After Manny Lawson missed a sure pick six, Painter scrambled for the first down and the Colts first trip into Bengals territory. Geno Atkins put them behind the sticks immediately, stuffing Carter for a four yard loss. A screen pass to Donald Brown fell well short of the first down, forcing a Pat McAfee punt which was fair caught by Nate Clements at the 11.
A three and out gave the Colts the ball back at their own 34 following a Kevin Huber punt. The first quarter ended with the Bengals maintaining that 7-0 lead.
The Colts moved efficiently down the field to start the second quarter. Three consecutive slants to Pierre Garcon moved the ball inside the Bengals 30. Then Donald Brown came in and ran for nine yards followed by an 18 yard touchdown run where he popped it outside and outraced Dan Skuta to the end zone. That tied the game at seven apiece.
On their next possession, the Bengals went back to the run with Cedric Benson, getting up near midfield. The drive stalled there and Kevin Huber was forced to punt.
After another Colts three and out, the Bengals put together a nice drive as the first half drew to a close. Andy Dalton and Jerome Simpson were the main connection getting the ball down to the Colts 30 at the two minute warning. After an AJ Green holding penalty moved the ball back ten yards, Dalton hit Simpson again on a slant that took the ball inside the Colts' 10. Cedric Benson took the ball down to the two, but was stonewalled on third down forcing a Mike Nugent field goal attempt. Nugent put it through the uprights as time expired and the Bengals went into the locker room leading 10-7.
Andy Dalton was an impressive 15-19 in the first half for 142 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals defense, however, gave up 5.2 yards per carry and allowed the Colts to stay in the game.
The Bengals defense forced a three and out to start the half. Brandon Tate returned the McAfee punt 33 yards giving the Bengals great starting position at midfield. Cedric Benson ran right for five yards and then Jerome Simpson beat Jacob Lacey down to the Colts 15 yard line. Dalton missed AJ Green on third down, but Chris Rucker was called for pass interference at the four. Cedric Benson cashed it in from the two a play later, giving the Bengals a 17-7 lead.
The Bengals defense then got after the Colts, forcing another three and out. In fact, Nate Clements would have likely had a pick six had not Colts wide receiver Austin Collie pushed him to the ground. The Bengals offense then went back to work.
Bernard Scott spelled Cedric Benson with some nice gains and Andy Dalton hit AJ Green on a rollout to move the ball back out near midfield. Dalton converted a third and nine with a nice screen pass to Brian Leonard. The drive bogged down inside the Colts 30 however, and Mike Nugent hit his 12th consecutive field goal putting Cincinnati ahead 20-7. The Bengals held the ball for six minutes and the Colts defense showed signs of tiring..
The Colts offense wasn't giving up though. Curtis Painter and Reggie Wayne hooked up twice to get the ball into Bengals territory and Pierre Garcon made a leaping grab on the sidelines to get to the Bengal 27. Michael Johnson stepped up big for the Bengals and sacked Painter for a ten yard loss. Donald Brown was stopped short of the first down as the third quarter expired. Adam Vinatieri started the final frame with a 46 yard field goal to draw the Colts within 10 points.
A pair of drops by Jerome Simpson and AJ Green prompted the first second half punt by Kevin Huber and put the defense back out on the field. Painter continued to be efficient, moving the Colts quickly into Bengals territory with a bubble screen to Garcon, a fade to Dallas Clark, and another screen to Reggie Wayne. Then Painter looked to Pierre Garcon in the end zone where Morgan Trent made contact for pass interference. Painter failed to get in on first and second down on quarterback sneaks. On third down, Painter faked the run and Dallas Clark made a tremendous one-handed grab to cut the lead to 20-17.
On the next drive, the Bengals were uncharacteristically error prone. First a holding penalty started the drive at the ten. Then, after Jermaine Gresham was stopped short of the first down, Kyle Cook got whistled for a personal foul. That meant Kevin Huber's punt was kicked from the end zone, allowing the Colts to start from their own 40 with a little over eight minutes left.
Painter found Austin Collie on a third down to move the ball across midfield and then Dallas Clark to the Bengals 34. On third and ten, the Bengals sent a safety blitz and hurried Painter's throw to Pierre Garcon. The hold from Pat McAfee on Adam Vinatieri's 52 yard field goal attempt was bobbled and Nate Clements appeared to get a piece of it. The miss put the Bengals back in possession of the pigskin with 5:52 left.
The Bengals appeared headed for another three and out with conservative runs on first and second down. Dalton hit Brian Leonard on a screen pass on third down that took the ball down to the Colts 30 yard line. The Bengals kept it on the ground, forcing the Colts to burn their final two time outs, but failed to pick up the first down from there. Mike Nugent missed his first field goal of the season when the wind pushed the ball to the right. The Colts took over on their with 2:36 remaining.
There, the Bengals defense made another late game-saving play. Pierre Garcon made a catch and either tried to lateral the ball or stretch it out. Either way, Carlos Dunlap was there to pick the ball out of the air and scampered 34 yards for the touchdown, putting the Bengals back up by 10, 27-17.
Leon Hall intercepted, Painter on the first play following the kickoff, sealing the victory. The pick marked the first by a Cincinnati defensive back as well as the first thrown by Painter this season. Cedric Benson closed things out, picking up a first down after the two minute warning.
Andy Dalton finished 25 of 32 for 264 yards and a touchdown. Jerome Simpson went over 100 yards on the day. The defense once again held an opponent under 300 yards of offense. Today though they forced three turnovers that were turned into 14 points.
Cincinnati head into their bye week at 4-2, a mark no one anticipated when the season started. This young team is building confidence week by week. Who knows how far that can take them.
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