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Bengals vs Colts Recap - 12/08/13

What an opportunity for the Bengals to be at home for three of their final four games of the season.  They came into this stretch with a record of 8-4, leading the AFC North by two games over the Ravens.  By virtue of Cincinnatis win over New England earlier this season, the Bengals owned the tie breaker over the 9-3 Patriots for the AFCs 2nd seed.    

But game-one of this run came against an 8-4 Colts team, which arguably owns three of the best wins anyone has this season by beating Seattle, Denver and San Francisco.  
The game started well for the home team, as the Bengals defense forced Indianapolis into a punt on its opening series, and then Andy Dalton went to work.  Blending Jermaine Gresham (who didnt catch a single pass in San Diego) and A.J Green, Dalton went 6-7 on the opening series, and connected with Marvin Jones who made nice diving reception on a 29-yard scoring play.      

After Cincinnatis initial score, both teams struggled to get their offensive attacks in gear for most of the half, and Colts Punter Pat McAfee was their MVP of the first 30 minutes, twice pinning the Bengals inside their own 5-yard-line.  That had a lot to do with the Bengals inability to move the ball with any kind of rhythm.  But finally, after Adam Vinatieri missed a 44-yard field goal attempt, the Bengals were able to use that decent field position to generate a little momentum before the half.  A screen pass to Giovanni Bernard seemed to light a little fire, while getting the Bengals on the Colts half of the 50 yard line.    

Bengals worked their way into a 3rd and goal situation at the two-minute warning but a screen pass was snuffed out.  So was Cincinnatis 4th down play, as Marvin Lewis elected to go for it all rather than settling for a field goal.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis was tripped at the line of scrimmage and ruled down before the end zone.   But Referee Jeff Triplett " who always seems to be at the center of every weekly officiating controversy " apparently didnt think Green-Ellis was touched.  He over turned the call on the field and handed the Bengals a gift of a touchdown before the half, and they led Indianapolis 14-0. 

A little more of the same recipe for the Bengals to start the 3rd quarter as Gresham, Bernard and Green-Ellis all contributed to a scoring drive, which made it 21-0 Bengals.  A Dalton to Green completion that covered 17 yards ignited the 10-play, 83-yard drive, which ended with Green-Ellis scoring from short yardage for the second time.   

But it got tricky after that, as the Colts, who have been a 2nd half team all year, responded with two quick touchdown passes by Luck, as some shoddy tackling enabled the Indianapolis receivers to break away.  A 69-yard catch and run by DaRick Rogers gave Indy its first score, while Lavon Brazill went 19-yards on their next series.  What appeared to be a walk in the park, albeit a cold one for the Bengals, suddenly turned into a competitive game.   But Andy Dalton did what any great, or wanna-be-great-qb does.  He calmly guided the Bengals right down field and answered those Colts touchdown passes with one of his own.   On the goal line Defensive Tackle Domata Peko came in to block, which led everyone to think a run was coming.  Instead Dalton flipped a pass to the left flat to a wide open Jermaine Gresham and hauled it in for an easy score to make it 28-14.  And at the start of the 4th quarter Dalton did it again, connecting with Green for his 3rd touchdown pass of the day to make it 35-14. Just like that, what had been a close game in the third was on the verge of becoming a blowout.   

Luck wouldnt allow that to happen so quickly, as he connected with Brazill on another scoring pass to make it a 35-21 game.  But a late 4th quarter Td run by Dalton to make it 42-21 cemented the win for Cincinnati, which improved to 9-4 this season.     

Bengals had a very well balanced attack with more than 150 yards rushing and Daltons very efficient passing game, which topped the 275-yard mark.  Bengals will now travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night game next week.  Bengals will be looking for a season sweep of the Steelers. 

PHOTO: CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 08: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws the ball during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)



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