SMITH POSTS RECEIVING NUMBERS AND FINAL TALLY IN COLTS WIN – The Colts' receiving corps has been depleted by injury throughout most of the preseason, but one constant has been the play of Taj Smith.
A player known more for his special teams heroics to Colts fans, Smith showed his skills offensively on Thursday night.
Smith finished the game with eight catches for 140 yards and his seven-yard touchdown with 1:08 remaining proved to be the game-winner Thursday night.
"I'm trying to make this team," Smith said. "The coaches gave me the opportunity to do so. That was a blessing."
The night for Smith got off to a solid start when newly-signed quarterback Kerry Collins found him for his first two completions in a Colts uniform.
With 3:40 remaining in the third quarter and the Colts backed up to their own five-yard line and down, 10-3, Smith hauled in a 54-yard pass from quarterback Dan Orlovsky. The connection was the first play of a nine-play, 95-yard march which set up the game-tying touchdown for Indianapolis.
Orlovsky and Smith continued their connection on what ended up being the Colts' game-winning touchdown drive.
On a third-and-10 from the Cincinnati 49-yard line and only 2:47 remaining, Orlovsky hit Smith for a 14-yard gain.
The two would hook up again two plays later for a 23-yard reception. The nine-play, 75-yard march was capped off with Smith's seven-yard touchdown reception from Orlovsky to decide the contest for the Colts, 17-13.
The leading receiver in the preseason, Smith finished the four games with 12 catches for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
'This is my resume'. I tried to go out and make the best of (the game)," Smith said. "I can't really say I did a bad job because I gave it my all. I'm human, so I have to think about it. I had the opportunity to make plays today.
"There still are a lot of things I can get better at. At the end of the day, I just try to help the team out and make plays. I'm just grateful for being able to play. We won, and that's what really matters. I definitely gave it my all out there today. Whatever God has in store for me, I just have to take it and keep working."
EVANS AIDS, THEN CONCLUDES TOUCHDOWN DRIVE – The second half of the fourth game of the preseason might not hold a lot of meaning to most football fans but do not tell that to Darren Evans.
After not receiving any 'touches' in the first half, Evans played a large role in the Colts' 95-yard scoring drive that led to the first touchdown for Indianapolis in Thursday night's 17-13 victory at Cincinnati.
On the first play of the drive, Orlovsky found Taj Smith down the right sideline for a 54-yard gain.
The catch by Smith certainly initiated the nine-play march, and Evans ended the drive eight plays later in the Cincinnati end zone.
On second-and-11 from the Bengals 31-yard line, Orlovsky patiently waited for an Evans screen pass play to develop. Evans, an undrafted rookie, gathered in the pass, followed his blocks and reached the Bengals' three-yard line.
The 28-yard catch and run by Evans gave the Colts a first-and-goal situation, and his number was called for the rest of the drive.
After a two-yard rush on first down, Evans was stopped on a second-down run and a third-down shovel pass. Following a timeout, Evans punched it in on fourth goal for his first career touchdown. The score tied the game, 10-10.
"It was tough down there on the goal line. Everyone was giving their all," Evans said. "The line was really pushing for me. There was a little crease in there and I was able to score."
"It was going to be a battle to get in (the game) and see what we could do," Evans said. "Tonight was about playing as fast as we could and giving a little heart, too."
"I try to give my best in each and every rep in practices and games. That's what I'm going to live with, knowing I did my best on the field."
THOMAS PLAYS DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS – Defensive back Kevin Thomas still has not played an NFL regular season game. The 2010 third-round draft pick was hurt in rookie camp a year ago and missed the entire season with a knee injury.
Thursday night in Cincinnati was the culmination of his 2011 preseason efforts, and he did the best he could to make an impact on the coaches and personnel staff.
With the secondary nursing a few injuries and resting some players, Thomas made the most of his playing time against the Bengals racking up eight first-half tackles.
In the opening quarter, Thomas had a pair of tackles before having six more stops in the second period. He would have nine defensive stops for the game.
Thomas also made his presence felt on special teams where he saw some action as a gunner and recorded three tackles.
"I'm definitely ready to contribute on special teams, defense or wherever it is the team needs me," Thomas said.
Thomas hopes to make up for lost time in 2010. To put the finishing touches on the first Colts preseason win of 2011, Thomas picked off Bengals quarterback Dan LeFevour at the Indianapolis 15-yard line with 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
"I got to a play a lot in those games and got a lot of reps," Thomas said. "I definitely made some mistakes, but there were positives along the way. I have things I can work on to continue to improve my game."
Of his interception, Thomas said: "It felt good. They (coaches) were yelling to me to 'sink' and 'Cover-2' the whole game, so I finally sank and a ball finally came to me. I just made sure I caught it. I will keep it (the ball). It may be preseason, but it's my first interception. I usually give it (mementos) to my parents. They like to save things for me."
ANGERER LEARNS LESSON – The play looked all too familiar to linebacker Pat Angerer.
Facing a second-and-eight from the Colts 12-yard line, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton dropped back and threw in the direction of tight end Jermaine Gresham. Despite giving up five inches and 25 pounds to Gresham, Angerer had blanket coverage and deflected away a potential touchdown.
A popular play among many NFL teams is trying to isolate a linebacker against a tight end down the middle of the field.
One week earlier Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to thread the needle past Angerer on a similar route into tight end Jermichael Finley's hands for a touchdown. Angerer, however, was there with a hand in the action, but he could not break up the pass.
Angerer's work in pass coverage proved to play huge dividends as on the next play against the Bengals. He deftly picked up an A.J. Green fumble and returned it 23 yards to the 32-yard line.
The fumble recovery was another red zone stop for the Colts, something that has been a norm this preseason for the defense.
With defensive captain Gary Brackett sidelined the past two weeks, Angerer has slid over to middle linebacker and had a sack in week three against the Packers.
The Iowa product is expected to be back in his regular outside linebacker position along with fellow second-year pro Kavell Conner once Brackett returns for the season opener on September 11.