Are Colts vulnerable?

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Timing wise, it was an odd spot for Carson Palmer to pick at the only thing close to a pimple on the Indianapolis Colts.

His team had just fallen to 35-27 to Peyton Manning and crew, yet another big test failed for Palmer's Cincinnati Bengals while another big test passed for Indy.

But Palmer made his point anyway, suggesting that the widely held notion the Colts defence is suddenly a force isn't necessarily so.

"I didn't even see (Dwight) Freeney on the field and he's always around the quarterback," Palmer said of the Colts' vaunted pass rusher. "I didn't see (Robert) Mathis. I didn't see Corey Simon. I was shocked ... we shut them out."

Not that it may matter much.

If anyone wants to take the chance and play Arena Football and get in a scoring shootout with the Colts, good luck to them.

But before anyone hands them a trip to -- let alone a win -- in Super Bowl XL, there are just enough questions on defence to keep things interesting. Don't be surprised if the Colts get their record to 13-0 with wins the next three weeks against the Steelers, Titans and Jaguars.

Then, as the hype for an undefeated season goes beyond ridiculous, the two biggest remaining tests come in successive weeks: at home to Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers on Dec. 18, and on the road to face Shawn Alexander and the Seattle Seahawks on Christmas Eve.

If the Bengals' improving offence can roll up 492 yards against the Colts, as they did on Sunday, what might either of those teams do?

In fairness to the Colts, they appeared caught off-guard by the Bengals' no-huddle set, something not likely to happen again.

But get a defence that can slow Manning a little and suddenly the Colts may find themselves faced with a game.

And in case you think Palmer is out of his mind even questioning the Colts, in the next breath he raved about Manning and the offence.

"It's unbelievable what they do offensively," Palmer said.

"They're that good."

Good enough, perhaps, to survive with even a modest defence, if need be.

HANGING WITH CHAD

There is a tendency to lump Bengals receiver Chad Johnson in with egomaniac receivers Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.

Johnson has an ego for sure, but one with a difference.

Unlike the notorious pair, Johnson looks like he's having fun, and he doesn't disrespect teammates, opponents or the game.

His touchdown celebrations are entertaining, the latest being a classic. After scoring on a 68-yard bomb on Sunday, Johnson went down on one knee and proposed to a Ben-Gal, one of the Cincinnati cheerleaders.

JUST FOR KICKS

Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt has the best seat in the house in his team's bid for the perfect season. Not that it has been exciting for the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, however.

"It's boring," the Oakville native and former Argo said Sunday as he prepared for the two-hour bus ride from Cincy to Indy. "There's not much you can do ... just try to stay ready for when they need you."

Vanderjagt has made just 11 field goals (out of 12 attempts), ranking him 26th in the league. That's 20 less three-pointers than league-leader Neil Rackers of Arizona.

It's no fault of Vanderjagt that Manning and the offence punch it in the end zone so often. Vandy leads the league in extra points made, going 38 for 38.

"They've been that way for three years now," Vanderjagt said of the offence.

"They're pretty much unstoppable."


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