The Indianapolis Colts wrapped up the 2012 preseason with a come-from-behind 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Indianapolis will now head into the team’s Sept. 9 regular-season opener at Chicago with a 2-2 preseason mark. The Colts won both of their home games, sandwiched around road losses at Pittsburgh and Washington.
Several Indianapolis starters sat the game out, including outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and cornerback Jerraud Powers. Offensive guards Mike McGlynn (ankle) and Joe Reitz (knee), wide receiver Austin Collie (concussion), running backs Delone Carter (ribs) and Melwelde Moore (ribs) and defensive end Cory Redding (knee) also missed the game.
“It’s like the last couple of ball games. We’ve got to learn to start faster,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said at halftime. “We’re killing ourselves with negative yardage plays, penalties, and give up a run here or there. But then [we] responded, came back with two nice drives [in the second quarter], and got two nice [defensive] stops.”
Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck started and played one series before giving way to primary backup Drew Stanton. Stanton also went one series and was then replaced for the rest of the night bye rookie quarterback Chandler Harnish.
Harnish had a nice game, completing 9-of-16 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. Inside linebacker Moise Fokou netted a team-high 13 tackles. Outside linebacker Mario Addison added six tackles and two sacks.
“Like I said at halftime, we’ve got to find a way to start faster,” Pagano said after the game. “Disappointed, obviously, with our play early on both sides of the ball and special teams. The penalties. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. But like I told the team, I was really proud of every man and that we found a way to win the game.”
Cincinnati jumped to an early 3-0 lead, driving the ball 69 yards in 12 plays on the Bengals first offensive possession of the game. Mike Nugent connected on 37-yard kick with 8:09 left in the first quarter.
Bruce Gradkowski’s 10-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Marvin Jones with 11:05 left in the second quarter pushed the Cincinnati lead to 10-0. The Bengals went 58 yards in 12 plays for the touchdown.
Gradkowski had entered the game during Cincinnati’s second possession when starter Andy Dalton hurt his arm after having a pass tipped by outside linebacker Robert Mathis.
The Colts finally got on the board late in the second quarter as running back Deji Karim scored on a seven-yard run up the middle. Karim’s touchdown was set up by 32-yard pass from Harnish down the right sidelines to first-year wide receiver Kris Adams.
Darren Evans’ one-yard run with 45 seconds left in the first half gave Indianapolis a 14-10 lead. The Colts drive took seven plays but only 53 seconds overall. Harnish and Adams connected on 23-yard pass to give Indianapolis a first down.
Adams also drew two penalties on an incomplete pass as the Bengals were called for a personal foul and pass interference, giving the Colts a first and goal at the one-yard line.
Nugent’s second field goal of the half, this one from 48 yards with 0:02 left in the second quarter, brought the Bengals to within 14-13 at the half.
Cincinnati took a lot of time off the clock with its first possession of the third quarter, driving 83- yards in 16 plays in 8:49. Nugent’s third field goal of the game, a 22-yarder, put the Bengals back on top 16-14.
Indianapolis got a late touchdown, scoring on a 42-yard pass from Harnish to tight end Dominque Jones with 6:54 remaining in the game. The Colts went 73 yards in eight plays as Jones broke a couple of tackles and sprinted down the right sidelines.
Defensive end James Aiono recovered a Cincinnati fumble deep in Bengals territory after the Indianapolis touchdown. But Evans gave it right back to the Bengals on the Colts first play from scrimmage.
The Colts, though, were able to hold defensively to force a punt and then run out the clock at the end of the game.
“We had a chance to ice it there [after recovering the fumble] and then found a way to give it right back. You can’t do that If you’re going to win in the National Football League, “ the Indianapolis coach said.
“When they give you the ball like that and you’ve got a chance to put a team away, you’ve got to do it. But in the end our guys played their tails off and the effort was outstanding. They found a way to win a game. It ended on a positive note. It was big for us.”
n Sloppy game — How bad was it? Both teams combined for a whopping 24 penalties, 14 on Cincinnati and 10 on the Colts.
The Bengals had 119 yards in penalties, which won’t make coach Marvin Lewis happy. Indianapolis was assessed 80 penalty yards.
There were also five total fumbles, three by the Colts and two by Cincinnati. The Bengals lost both of their fumbles, Indianapolis just one.
n Injuries — Outside linebacker Jerry Brown left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI sometime today.
Safety Mike Newton and cornerback Brandon King both incurred hamstring injuries.
Adams left the game after an apparent blow to the head, which drew a personal foul penalty. He said afterward, though, that he was fine and could have come back in.
n Final cuts today — NFL teams must be down to 53-players by tonight. The deadline for having roster moves completed is 9 p.m.
Colts officials are hoping to make an announcement about their final cuts by early evening. Even after 22 players are trimmed from the roster, Indianapolis’ regular-season roster won’t officially be set due to the possible addition of players waived from other teams.
“It’s extremely tough because these guys worked their whole lives to get into an NFL locker room and to play on an NFL stage. You have to call 22 guys (today) at some point and let them know we’re going in a different direction. It’s extremely tough just because they’re great men and they have great character and great integrity,” Pagano said.
“They’ve done everything that we’ve asked them to do from day one. I’m really proud of every man in that locker room. What they did [Thursday night], whether they end up on our 53 or they end up on the practice squad here, as long as they put good tape out there and enhanced their resume, then they’ve got a good shot at making [the roster] of one of the other 31 clubs [in the league].”
Bengals 3 10 3 0 — 16
Colts 0 14 0 6 — 20
C — Mike Nugent 37 FG, 8:09 1st quarter
C — Marvin Jones 10 pass from Bruce Gradkowski (Nugent kick), 11:05 2nd quarter
I — Deji Karim 7 run (Adam Vinatieri kick), 2:28 2nd quarter
I — Darren Evans 1 run (Vinatieri kick), 0:45, 2nd quarter
C — Nugent 48 FG, 0:02 2nd quarter
C — Nugent 22 FG, 8:49 3rd quarter
I — Dominque Jones 42 pass from Chandler Harnish (pass failed), 6:54 4th quarter
Attendance — 65,035 (tickets distributed).