Colts, Bengals: A tale of two teams

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Battered, bruised and broken. For the Indianapolis Colts it doesn’t seem to matter. Somehow they’ve found a way to win.

Unlike the Cincinnati Bengals who keep finding ways to lose.

The Colts, with a patchwork lineup, used a ball-hawking defence and took advantage of some questionable efforts by the Bengals to beat Cincinnati 23-17.

This was a game both teams needed: the Colts to reaffirm their hold on the AFC South, and the Bengals to salvage faint playoff hopes.

Indianapolis, with seven starters and just as many other integral players sidelined, never got the offence untracked but scored 13 points off five turnovers and got two defensive stops in the final two minutes, 40 seconds.

The only offensive touchdown came on Javarris James one-yard run in the first quarter. Quarterback Peyton Manning had predicted trouble moving the ball and failed to throw a TD pass for the first time this season. He had three consecutive three-and-outs starting the second half. Pierre Garcon dropped a TD pass and Reggie Wayne had a throw skip off his helmet. But somehow the Colts made it work, their 6-2 record putting them two games ahead in the loss column on Tennessee the South Division.

Meantime little worked for the Bengals.

Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco got major points for toughness and acrobatics. Palmer had his throwing shoulder shot full of pain-killer and threw the ball with authority — but he also hit Colts’ defenders for three interceptions. On one, in the fourth quarter, trying to rally from 20-10 down Chad Owens seemed to quit on the throw, allowing Eric Francisco to step in front of him.

Ochincinco put in a heroic performance. There was a diving catch over the middle, another in which he curled his toes just inside the sideline for a touchdown with 1:06 left in the half. After hurting his shoulder, he played most of the second half in pain and still made several highlight grabs.

But Palmer also was victim of three interceptions. The first half was a microcosm of the Bengals’ season as they dug a 17-0 hole. Kelvin Hayden returned an interception when Palmer and Owens messed up a route. Down 10-0, Cedric Benson fumbled on his own 25 setting up James’ three-yard TD.

Palmer kept them in the game with two TD passes and 292 yards on 31 completions. He almost pulled it out when he hit Jermaine Gresham with a TD pass and the onside kick gave them the ball and hope with 2:33 to play. Ten seconds later it was over: Gresham fumbled.

The game would end with Palmer getting sacked on consecutive plays ... and Owens strolling leisurely back to the line of scrimmage as time in the game, and on the Bengals season, ticked away.

Hurtin game

There could be a dark cloud behind that silver lining in the Dolphins win over Tennessee.

Quarterback Chad Henne is “more than likely” out for the season after suffering a left knee injury.

Meantime, the news for Chad Pennington may be even worse. He is done for the season with a dislocated shoulder and if he has to undergo his fourth surgery it could end his career.

The Florida Sun-Sentinal says that the club has already started a search for a free-agent quarterback.

Quick hits

Bengals kicker Mike Nugent’s right (kicking) knee injury is believed to be “severe,” according to the team’s website. “It doesn’t look good,” admitted Nugent. Free agents Matt Stover and John Carney are both available ... Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs dislocated four toes on his right foot. Joe Haden or Mike Bell will likely assume kick-return duties while Chansi Stuckey is a candidate to return punts next week...Jets are the first team to win consecutive overtime road games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau ... Jags’ Mike Thomas had just two career touchdowns in 22 games coming into Sunday before his 50-yard game winner ... Vontae Davis shut out Randy Moss earlier this season and allowed him only one catch Sunday.

Texans won't get over this loss

There is no way anyone will convince the Houston Texans of anything else.

The Texans overcame a 17-3 deficit and were eight seconds from heading to overtime. Instead, Mike Thomas caught a 50-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock to send the Texans home 31-24 losers.

It was the fourth time in NFL history that a regular season game ended on a game-winning TD pass of 50 or more yards with no time remaining.

Josh Scobee's second missed field goal had given Houston the ball with the score tied, but the Texans needed to drive 67 yards in 1:34 with no timeouts.

When Joel Dreessen fumbled on a third-and-15 play with eight seconds to play it seemed the clock would run out with the teams near midfield. It didn't seem to matter because Houston had no time to get the field goal team out anyway.

But Garrard found Marcedes Lewis in the left flat for an 11-yard gain, then with three seconds remaining, Garrard dropped back, rolled left and threw high and deep to Mike Sims-Walker. It missed him but deflected off defensive back Glover Quin perfectly into Thomas' hands. He stepped across the goal line sending the Jaguars into a frenzied celebration.

The Texans? They can look at the replay for the next week and still not figure out how this happened.


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