The Cincinnati Bengals got off to a hot start on Sunday when they took a commanding 21-0 lead early in the second quarter against the Colts. The game was getting out of hand, but after a laundry list of quality defensive plays for the Colts and a strong performance by Philip Rivers, Indy came out with a 31-27 victory and improved to a record of 4-2 on the season.
Last week, the Colts cooled off on the thermometer. Let’s check on their temperature for the end of week 6.
Jack Doyle fumbled on the second play of the game for the Colts. It immediately put the Bengals offense in great field position, and they were able to put 7 points up on the board right away. For the next 15 minutes of football, it was all Bengals.
The problem isn’t necessarily that Doyle fumbled, it’s that Doyle fumbled the ball without anyone hitting him. He made the catch, began to turn, and then just dropped the ball out of nowhere. For a veteran player like Doyle, this can’t happen. Football is often a game of momentum, and it becomes very difficult to dig yourself out of a hole. Especially when it’s a three possession game in just 16 minutes of play.
The other major negative, and I feel like a broken record by saying this again, is T.Y. Hilton. Hilton had one catch on Sunday for 11 yards. He was targeted five times throughout the game. When Hilton had Andrew Luck as the quarterback, the duo seemed like a match made in heaven. One year, Hilton even led the NFL in receiving yards. Of course his production would go down with a guy like Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, and it did. However, even with a guy like Rivers who likes to take shots deep down the field, Hilton can’t seem to get a rhythm going or make really any meaningful plays through six games.
Defensively I think the Colts played pretty well, especially in the second half. The one thing that is worth mentioning was the unnecessary roughness call on Rock Ya-Sin. Obviously Ya-Sin is a young guy and he was probably frustrated with how the game was going. Sometimes players get lost in the game too, and something comes over them when making a play.
Basically, Ya-Sin wrapped Giovani Bernard in his arms, picked him up, threw him over his body, and Bernard landed on his head. It doesn’t matter how young you are, you need to understand the rules of the game. Absolutely can not make mistakes like this, especially in a game you are losing. Boneheaded mistake by Ya-Sin, and the Bengals gained an extra 15 yards and ultimately turned that drive into 3 points after a made field goal.
Well after the slow start, the offense really started to heat up, and a lot of that credit goes to Philip Rivers.
Rivers completed 29 of his 44 passes and accumulated 371 yards in the air. He passed for three touchdowns and had one almost very costly interception. He seemed confident on Sunday, and was completing passes all over the field. He was finding receivers who were covered pretty well and still placing the ball where only they could catch it.
With Philip Rivers, obviously the turnovers will happen, but so will 350 plus yard games with three touchdown passes. Throwing the ball into double coverage may have been a bad decision by Rivers on the interception, but he made up for it with a few darts to various players like Marcus Johnson, Zach Pascal, Trey Burton, and Jack Doyle.
Speaking of Marcus Johnson, this guy has been impressive. The one thing I will always remember Johnson for is his touchdown last season against Tampa Bay. It felt like it was the only time Brissett took a shot deep and some guy named Marcus Johnson made the catch. Johnson has played in three games this season, he has nine receptions for 188 yards this year. It truly feels like every time he touches the ball, it’s a big gain.
Another thing I found interesting from this game was the lack of the run. The Colts had 371 yards in the air to just 59 yards on the ground. I realize the Colts were down big and needed quick points, and the pass was working all game long, but it’s still something to keep note of. The past two seasons, the run has been an integral piece to the Colts offense, so it was nice to see the pass work so well.
Defensively, I think the unit played well. DeForest Buckner had a key sack in the second half that led to a Bengals punt and good field position for the Colts. He seemed to be applying good pressure throughout the game and disrupting Joe Burrow to the best of his ability. Xavier Rhodes also played a strong game overall, including three passes defended.
The key defensive play to this game, however, came in the final minute of the fourth quarter. The Bengals were down four points and needed a touchdown to take the lead and likely secure the victory. Burrow was putting together a solid drive, and got his team in Indianapolis territory at the 35 yard line.
On 3rd & 6, Burrow passed up the middle to his top receiver of the game, Tee Higgins. Colts safety, Julian Blackmon came out of nowhere and intercepted Burrow’s pass to lock down the victory for Indy.
Blackmon has made some outstanding plays so far this year, and it seems like this trend will continue for quite a while.
This game did show a lot of promise. The offense found a good rhythm, and the defense really locked things down after the first quarter of play. The Colts head into a bye week for week 7, and it gives them an opportunity to heal up. I’m going to keep the thermometer where it is for now, because I think the Colts need to prove they can play like this against better teams. The Bengals only have one win on the season, and the Colts could have easily lost that game. Several big games coming up on the schedule, let’s see if this Bengals victory can put some momentum on Indy’s side.