Well, another loss to the Bengals to finish out the preseason. The outcome wasn’t all that important, but it certainly was more lopsided than many Colts players, coaches or fans would’ve hoped.
The first half was ugly but close. Chandler Harnish, the only Colts quarterback playing this fine evening, didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver before the break, going 4/7 for 21 yards and a 62.2 rating. That’s 1.6 yards per pass, if you’re checking. Rough night for Harnish.
The defense did a decent job of keeping Cincinnati in check through the first half despite giving up 173 yards. Inside linebacker Josh McNary and CB Marcus Burley led the way with 7 tackles apiece, and Jonathan Newsome stole the show with a sack on a free shot at Bengals QB Jason Campbell.
The Bengals punted four times in the first half, but eventually threw together an 11-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. Jeremy Hill’s apparent touchdown run was reversed and ruled down at the one-yard line. Then on the next play, Campbell did his very best to throw an interception to Colts linebacker Andy Studebaker, which he deflected into the hands of receiver Ryan Hewitt for a touchdown.
That was it for the first half. 7-0, Cincinnati. The Bengals punted four times, and the Colts punted three times and turned it over on downs with a -5 yard draw play on 4th and 2 from the Cincinnati 10 early in the second quarter.
It didn’t look much like the annual Bengal disaster to close out the preseason until the second half. Harnish and the offense came out with a three and out after a third down sack by second year player Margus Hunt, who finished with three on the night. Dane Sanzenbacher (who?) returned the ensuing punt 77 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Cincinnati lead. Get ready. The blowout is coming.
The Colts took possession at their own 17 after the score. Incomplete pass, 1-yard run by David Fluellen, interception. Harnish tried to hit Da’Rick Rogers downfield over the middle but instead found elderly veteran safety Danieal Manning, who took it 33 yards the other way for a 21-0 Bengals lead.
2:20 into the second half, and the game, which had been close – at least on the scoreboard, was getting out of hand. The Colts answered with a three and out and the first of four straight punts, as both offenses stumbled and sputtered preseason style for the remainder of the third quarter.
Early in the final period, on the fourth play of their drive, Tyler Wilson, Cincinnati’s fourth-string quarterback, threw a short pass to receiver Cobi Hamilton on the left side that quickly turned into a 50-yard touchdown. 28-0.
At this point, Colts fans, and likely the teammates of the guys still the field, just wanted to see something positive before the game mercifully came to an end. Harnish and company did pull off one nice drive, 11 plays, 77-yards (thanks in part to a 26-yard pass interference penalty). Da’Rick Rogers had a big 12-yard catch, tight end Erik Swoope added a 9-yard grab, and Mario Harvey turned a short pass into an awkward-looking 13-yard gain on third down in Cincinnati territory.
Harnish then tried a deep pass to Rogers, but the cornerback appeared to be boxing him out for a rebound…for a good 10-15 yards. The flag set Indy up at the 7-yard line, their best chance to score since reaching the 10 early in the first half. Harnish didn’t waste the opportunity. He hit Rogers with a short pass to the right and let the big receiver do the rest for the touchdown.
The Bengals, not to be outdone, came back with a quick scoring drive after a 59-yard kick return by Onterio McCaleb (who??) set them up with exceptional field position. They pushed their total to 35-7 after a 2-yard touchdown run by James Wilder.
The Colts reserve-reserves tried to tack on one more score but fizzled out with 3:46 remaining. In all, it’s what you’d expect for the fourth preseason game with a struggling quarterback.
Don’t let the result scare you. These were guys playing for a chance to make the final roster. Twenty-two of them sadly won’t be on the team in a week. The deadline for the “final” 53-man roster is August 31 at 6:00 PM EDT.
– Star of the game: Pat McAfee – 8 punts and 53.5-yard average, with 2 inside the 20 and just one touchback.
– First half highlight: the gang tackle by Marcus Burley, Jonathan Newsome, and Colt Anderson – mostly Newsome. First half lowlight: 1.6 yards per passing play.
– Second half highlight: Rogers’s touchdown. Second half lowlight: the rest of the second half.
– The biggest concern was injuries: LB Andrew Jackson and T Joe Reitz (ankle) both went down during the game. Reitz is the top backup at tackle, and the offensive line already has been ravaged by injuries.
– The o-line looked horrid at times, but most of those guys won’t be playing in the regular season…we hope (Please, make the injuries stop). Seriously, people were tweeting about the line’s awful play and worrying about Andrew Luck in the second half. TYLER HOOVER was playing left tackle in the second half. He’s a defensive end. There’s reason for concern, but this game is not the basis for it.
– Henoc Muamba had a bunch of second half playing time. It doesn’t necessarily spell certain doom, but it isn’t a good sign for a guy who started the preseason so strongly.
– Da’Rick Rogers made a case for himself with a touchdown, then presented the case against himself by punting the ball into the sky afterward.
– Griff Whalen, who has been ahead of Rogers on the depth chart all preseason, barely played at all, while Rogers had to try to prove himself in the fourth quarter. If they only keep five receivers, it looks as though the smart money is on Griff.