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The Indianapolis Colts, riding the hot hand of QB Andrew Luck, advanced to the second round of the NFL Playoffs with a 26-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Colts travel to Denver to face, former Colt great, Peyton Manning next weekend. The two teams met in Denver in the season opener with the Broncos winning 31-24.
Indianapolis controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, protecting Luck and harassing Dalton. The make shift offensive line was outstanding giving Luck ample time to throw the football.
Luck finished the game with 376 yards passing on 31/44 completions. He had 1 TD pass to Donte Moncrief and no interceptions. The Colts ran for 114 yards on 25 attempts, Daniel Herron lead the way with 56 yards on 12 carries and 1TD. Herron also caught 10 passes for 85 yards. Despite his contributions Herron was out for most of the fourth quarter following his second fumble of the game, which was recovered by the Colts.
The Bengals, who along with the Colts, Patriots and Packers are the only teams to make the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years, lost their sixth consecutive opening round playoff game under Marvin Lewis.
The pressure on Bengal QB Andy Dalton, looking to break a 0-3 playoff start, significantly increased when wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham were out for the game
Without a deep threat Cincinnati continued to throw down field to no avail. Dalton, unable find a rhythm and mount an effective passing attack looked uneasy all afternoon as he was hurried in the pocket, losing one fumble late in the game.
The Bengals were outgained 482-254 in total yards and held scoreless in the second half.
Dalton was 18 of 35 for 155 yards passing. Jeremy Hill led all rushers with 47 yards on 13 carries.
The Bengals took another hit when linebacker Ray Maualuga was lost for the game early in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. His absence was felt after the Colts built a lead and ran the ball and threw underneath to control the clock.
Indianapolis came out throwing the football in their opening drive ultimately running the ball into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. It was the Colts first opening drive TD this season.
Luck was 3/6 for 36 yards and Herron rushed 3 times for 32 yards and a touchdown in the nine play drive.
Cincinnati, thwarted on their opening drive despite rushing the ball 37 yards on 5 carries, tied the game 7-7on their next possession. The big play was a 25yard pass from Dalton to Rex Burkhead on 3rd and 2. That play set up a Hill touchdown run from the 1yard line.
Adam Vinatieri put the Colts up 10-7 following a 38 yard field goal, capping an 11 play drive that began on their own 9 yard line.
Cincinnati’s defense held the Colts to a second field goal, 29 yards by Vinatieri, following another foray into the red zone.
Cincinnati cut the Colt lead to 10-13 on a 57 yard field goal by beleaguered Bengal kicker Mike Nugent. The score was set up following a Herron fumble on the Bengal 34 yard line.
The Colts dominated the first half, outgaining the Bengals 263/156 total yards with 219 coming in the air.
Outstanding plays by the Bengal secondary and a few dropped passes kept the halftime score close.
Halfway through the third quarter Luck, escaping from the pocket, hit Moncrief for a 36 yard TD pass giving the Colts a 20-10 lead.
The Colt defense sensed a momentum shift forced a Bengal punt giving their offense the ball on their own 43 yard line. A pair of Herron runs, a few short passes and a defensive holding penalty put the ball on the 5 yard line.
The Bengal defense stepped up and held the Colts to a 22 yard field goal. Vinatieri’s third field goal of the game gave Indianapolis a 23-10 lead late in the third quarter.
Vinatieri put Indianapolis up 26-10 with his fourth field goal of the game, a 53 yarder at the 11:58 mark of the fourth quarter, ending the scoring.