Bengals beat Colts 27-7
The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Cincinnati refused to take any chances with its big-name players Thursday night.
The Indianapolis Colts took an even safer approach, benching all of its starters.
In a ho-hum preseason finale, the Bengals scored touchdowns on their first two series and handed the Colts’ replacements a 27-7 loss.
‘‘It was one of those fifth preseason games that wasn’t artistic and probably the fans didn’t appreciate a lot of the things that happened out there,’’ Colts coach Tony Dungy said. ‘‘But we got to see some things we needed to see, and we got some things accomplished.’’
The Bengals did a little more in the short term.
They played without starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who spent the game in street clothes with his mangled nose bandaged; receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was in uniform but didn’t play; or their more heralded receiver, Chad Johnson, who didn’t even make the two-hour trip on I-74. Running back Rudi Johnson, who was expected to play, never made it onto the field, either.
But against Indy’s backups, it didn’t matter.
Chris Perry, who’ll likely supplant Rudi Johnson as the starter, rushed nine times for 20 yards and scored on a 5-yard run before departing. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Palmer’s backup, was 5-of-8 for 35 yards with one TD pass before leaving in the first half.
And the Bengals’ defense manhandled the Colts’ offensive mishmash.
‘‘We did a nice job closing out the football game,’’ Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. ‘‘I think we got accomplished what we needed to accomplish and we came out healthy.’’
The Colts didn’t seem to care about the result.
Two-time league MVP Peyton Manning dressed for the first time in five games and went through his normal pregame routine but didn’t play. Neither did anyone else of note, and it showed.
Manning’s backup, Quinn Gray, ran six plays before fumbling on the Colts 10, and Indy’s usually potent offense went nowhere.
Cincinnati ran nearly as many plays on its first series (21) as the Colts did the entire half (22) and only six of Indy’s plays went for positive yardage. The starting offense finished the preseason, which included one extra game, without scoring a touchdown.
Defensively, the Colts struggled, too.
Dungy spent the short week telling players they needed to get stops on third down, then watched the Bengals run nearly 11 1/2 minutes off the clock on the opening possession by converting five of six third downs and once on fourth. Perry finished the drive with his TD run.
‘‘I’m not going to lie, I was a bit winded,’’ Fitzpatrick said. ‘‘You don’t get 21-play drives very often.’’
Gray’s fumble gave Cincinnati the ball right back at the Indy 10, and three plays later, Fitzpatrick and Glenn Holt hooked up on a 9-yard score to make it 14-0.
That was too much for Indy to overcome Thursday.
But Dungy may have found an answer on kickoffs.
With last year’s returner, T.J. Rushing, out for the season after being placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Courtney Roby took advantage of his chance to win a roster spot.
He fielded the Bengals’ kickoff in the end zone, ran toward the middle of the field, then made a sharp cut to the left and went untouched for a 103-yard return — Indy’s only score.
‘‘My job is simple, just hit the crease and make sure they don’t have to stay on the blocks long,’’ Roby said. ‘‘I was fortunate enough there was a big enough crease for me to get by, and I just tried to take it to the house from there.’’
The Bengals sealed it in the second half on DeDe Dorsey’s 6-yard TD run to open the fourth quarter.
Yet Lewis thought the Bengals could have been better.
‘‘I’ve never seen a 21-play, 80-yard drive,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘But we need to sharpen up on offense, and we’ve got to run more crisply.’’
Notes: The Bengals lost Holt and defensive tackle Antwon Burton during the game after they were hit in the head. Afterward, Lewis said they were OK. … Colts rookies Pierre Garcon and Tom Santi both hurt their knees but are not expected to miss much time. The most serious injury was to backup linebacker Victor Worsley, who sprained his knee. … Doctors instructed Colts offensive line coach Howard Mud, who has had knee replacement surgery, to spend the game in the press box. … The Bengals finished the preseason 2-2. … Indy was 1-4 and is now 3-16 in preseason games since Sept. 2004.