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2017 Week 8 Colts v Bengals: Second Half Open Thread Colts lead 13-10

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts put together a decent opening offensive drive that showed the kind of balance the team needs to be effective. Quicker passing concepts that included punishing off-coverage and getting T.Y. Hilton involved early, along with the dump-off option out of the backfield is exactly what the team needs to do.

However, the lack of creativity in short yardage situations continues to plague the Colts. Running Marlon Mack up the gut on second and short is not likely to work and doesn’t play to his strengths. Two sacks in the first drive helped erase the positive. A blocked punt put the Colts defense on the field with awful field position.

With great field position, the Bengals were able to put points on the board. The Colts defensive line made a couple of nice plays, particularly against the run, that helped force Andy Dalton into trying to make plays with his arm. Interestingly, all-world receiver A.J. Green had no impact on the drive while Brandon LaFell and rookie receiver Brandon Malone caught passes. Bengals held the early lead 0-3.

On the second offensive drive an unfortunate call on the filed took what was a completed pass and took it away from the Colts. It would have resulted in a first down on a nice late delivery from Brissett. Instead, the Colts go to second down. They have a false start, a blown up wide receiver screen for a loss to T.Y. Hilton, and a terrible short throw to Chester Rogers for one yard that had no chance at getting a first down.

The second punt of the day is not blocked. However, a long punt return is allowed putting the Bengals in even better field position than they had on the first drive. Somehow, now the Colts special teams unit (one of the best in the NFL) is making it tough to win the game.

After another mixed performance on defense, allowing a long play to Joe Mixon space and a completed pass to Tyler Kroft that put the Bengals in position to score, Barkevious Mingo stunted inside to put pressure on Andy Dalton and Henry Anderson blocked the short field goal attempt — keeping the Bengals from building on their lead.

After another offensive drive that didn’t generate a great deal of confidence that the Colts would be able to get anything going, the Colts special teams unit came onto the field. The Bengals punt returner muffed the punt, giving the ball back to the Colts offense as Barkevious Mingo recovered.

In what has become a very frustrating occurrence in 2017, Indianapolis threw away a chance to score a touchdown when a quick pass to Kamar Aiken is dropped — making his second dropped pass on the day. If he reels in the pass, Indianapolis has a first and goal at around the 5 yard line. Instead, the drive results in a Vinatieri field goals that ties it up at 3.

The Colts defense stepped up to force a three and out with some blitz packages. One of the fastest guys on defense is Nate Hairston who nearly picked up his third sack on third down. Jeremiah George and Tarrell Basham also put a lot of pressure on Dalton on second down forcing an errant pass. Early on, these blitzes have confused the Cincinnati offensive line.

The Colts offense rewarded the defense by putting together a nice drive that again stayed balanced. The play utilized both Frank Gore and Marlon Mack on the ground. Jack Doyle has finally started to look more like the player Colts fans knew over the last two seasons. In the first half he has pulled in five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Colts lead 10-3.

After a touchdown, which had to result in a big exhale from a Colts fan base that has been stuck under water for a few weeks, the Colts defense gives up a big play on a screen pass to Joe Mixon. As I mentioned in the keys to the game, it is the lateral use of running backs like Mixon and Bernard that will give the Colts defense the most trouble. Rob Chudzinski should take notes on this one, this is how you punish a defense that is pinning its ears back to create pressure on the quarterback.

After being held without a catch for the entire first half, A.J. Green finally found a way to get open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to tied the game at 10.

The Colts offense suffered from another penalty, this time on receiver Chester Rogers who was called for offensive pass interference blocking too far down the field on a short pass to Marlon Mack. Another big weakness all season for the Colts is trying to find a good way to dig out of long yardage situations. This drive was another example of that, with short plays leading to a third and 15, and an ineffective third down call that resulted in a Brissett scramble.

The Colts defense again dialed up pressure that resulted in a pass that was batted down by Jabaal Sheard and forced Andy Dalton to escape the pocket and throw an incomplete pass. This gave the Colts offense the opportunity to get back down the field for a field goal prior the end of the half. Two completions to Jack Doyle and a long completion to Kamar Aiken along the right sideline, along with a roughing the passer penalty that put Indianapolis well into Adam Vinatieri’s field goal range allows the Colts to enter half time up 13-10.