PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus
The Colts struggled to get much going offensively through the air as QB Peyton Manning completed 20-of-36 passes for 185 yards. He did not have a touchdown pass nor was he intercepted. Manning was sacked twice, though. Dropped and mishandled passes, along with timing issues, continue to contribute to Indianapolis' uneven play. TE Jacob Tamme (seven catches for 73 yards) and undrafted rookie WR Brandon James (four receptions for 36 yards) were bright spots.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C
Indianapolis had 76 yards in 22 carries as a team, led by RB Donald Brown's 50 yards in 12 carries. Undrafted rookie RB Javarris James added 26 yards in 10 carries and had one rushing touchdown. But it was the Colts' inability to pick up yards in short-yardage situations that almost cost them in the end.
PASS DEFENSE: B
First the good news. Indianapolis picked off three passes, one each by CB Kelvin Hayden, LB Tyjuan Hagler and S Aaron Francisco. And the Colts got to Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer three times, two coming in the final moments of the game. On the flip side, rookie TE Jermaine Gresham had nine receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown, WR Chad Ochocinco added seven receptions for 86 yards and a TD.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus
The Colts limited Bengals RB Cedric Benson to just 24 yards in 14 carries. As a team, Cincinnati wound up with 72 yards in 20 rushing attempts. Not bad work considering that the Colts were playing with two rookies at linebacker (Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner) and a longtime backup (Tyjuan Hagler).
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-plus
PK Adam Vinatieri was three-for-three in field-goal attempts. P Pat McAfee averaged 40.7 yards (net) and 41.3 yards (overall) on seven punts. He also had one touchback on kickoffs. CB Cornelius Brown averaged 22 yards on four kickoff returns. Rookie WR Brandon James had two punt returns. Now the bad news. The Colts mishandled an onsides kick late in the game (even though WR Pierre Garcon swears he caught the ball). And Cincinnati pulled off a fake punt that garnered 42 yards.
Good overall effort by the Colts' coaching staff, especially after having to plug so many inexperienced players in on both sides of the football due to injuries. There was some iffy play-calling late in the game as Indianapolis tried to run the ball in an effort to soak up time. The ploy didn't work as the Colts failed to get the needed first down and the Bengals had a couple late chances to pull out a come-from-behind victory.
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