4th Quarter Struggles Wreck the Colts Comeback Hopes in 27-17 Loss to Bengals

Dallas Clark's touchdown reception is the most impressive catch he's made since the one-handed catch for a touchdown against Baltimore a couple of years ago. (John Grieshop | Getty Images)

Once again it seemed as though the Indianapolis Colts had a chance to win their first game. And they were close.

Just by a Nate Clements’ fingertip.

After a blocked field goal late in the game, the Colts were still only down 20-17. The defense was able to step up on the next drive, handing the ball back to the offense for a chance to get a victory. But just as bad as the blocked field goal was on the previous drive, the final possession was much worse.

Holding on to the ball was a problem throughout the game. It started with Dallas Clark, who fumbled. This would lead to an eleven-yard touchdown from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green to put Cincinnati up, 7-0.

But that was just the first quarter. This was to decide the game. And the outcome was decided after Painter threw a pass to Pierre Garcon, who fumbled; leading to a 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Carlos Dunlap to put Cincinnati up, 27-17, with a little over two minutes remaining.

After that, it was game over. Indianapolis was hopeless, and they fall to 0-6. Indy hasn’t won a game since January 2nd in a 23-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 of last season. Since that date, many things have changed with this franchise. The Colts have already matched the losses they have had since last season, when they finished 10-6.

Meanwhile, the Bengals improve to 4-2, showing signs of a playoff-contender, even though this was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the eyes of many NFL fans. The Bengals snapped a seven-game losing streak to Indy, their third straight week breaking a losing streak to a team. They didn’t get by the Colts easy in this victory, but they got the job done.

“That was nerve-racking,” Bengals receiver A.J. Green said. “I’m glad we have a bye week now. I need it for my heart.”

However, Indianapolis showed signs of victory in the game, but just like the last four games, hopes for a win were crushed in the fourth quarter.

After the Green touchdown, the Colts responded with a Donald Brown 18-yard touchdown, tying the game at seven. But a one-yard touchdown by Cedric Benson and a Mike Nugent field goal put Cincinnati in a commanding lead at 20-7 to end the third quarter.

Indianapolis would march back, as Curtis Painter faked a handoff and found Dallas Clark open for an amazing one-handed touchdown to put the Colts back in the game, 20-17.

After that, of course, came the blocked field goal. And then came the Dunlap touchdown. For a guy as big as Dunlap, it was one heck of a play by him. He looked like a running back when he took off with that ball.

“I have no clue what happened,” said Dunlap of the touchdown. “I don’t know how it came out, but I saw it coming down to me.”

It was the fifth straight game where the Colts had a chance at winning, but failed miserably in the fourth.

“Each game, we’re in it in the fourth quarter and something happens,” defensive back Jerraud Powers said. “Something dramatic happens.”

Painter was decent, throwing for 179 yards with a touchdown and a pick, going for a 79 rating. Dalton had 264 yards with a touchdown and a 111.5 rating.

Delone Carter had 45 rushing yards, averaging about three yards per carry. Brown had 35 yards off of five carries. In my opinion, he should have saw more action in the game. He was getting hot but had limited opportunities. The Bengals’ Benson, on the other hand, had 57 yards and a touchdown.

Reggie Wayne had five catches for 58 yards and Clark had six for 53 yards. After two solid games, Garcon was quiet, catching eight passes for 52 yards; and then sadly the fumble. Jerome Simpson played a solid game for Cincinnati, hauling in six passes for 101 yards. Green played great, too, with five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

The Colts are still in the hunt for their first win of the season, and it’s going to be tough next week as they’ll be facing the New Orleans Saints. At this point it is more likely that game will turn out similar to the Colts Week One loss to the Houston Texans.

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