INDIANAPOLIS— In a game that pitted teams with playoff plans in January, it was the home Bengals who proved to be more consistent at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Another slow start for the Colts (8-5) led to a 21-0 deficit and while the visitors cut the lead on several occasions in the second half, the Bengals (9-4) answered every time in earning a 42-28 victory.
The Colts would cut the 21-0 lead for the Bengals to seven points in the third quarter as a pair of young receivers emerged for the Indianapolis offense.
It started with rookie wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers in the third quarter.
Rogers caught an Andrew Luck pass and broke a tackle before scampering 69 yards for his first NFL touchdown (on just his third NFL catch).
Following the Rogers touchdown, the Colts defense then forced a three-and-out.
The Colts looked prime for yet another second-half comeback when LaVon Brazill gave an incredible individual effort, breaking six tackles on a 16-yard touchdown to cut the Bengals lead to 21-14 with 6:30 left in the third quarter.
Cincinnati answered though with two touchdowns following the Brazill score to make the score 35-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis would not go away as Brazill caught a 29-yard touchdown with 9:54 left and the Colts defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive.
Unlike in previous second half comebacks, the Colts could not muster any more scoring drives with the Bengals adding another fourth quarter touchdown to complete the 42-28 victory.
It was a slow first half for the Colts offense with Adam Vinatieri missing a 44-yard field goal on the lone Indianapolis drive in Cincinnati territory.
Following the miss, the Bengals drove 66 yards in eight plays but it appeared the Colts stuffed the Cincinnati offense on a fourth-and-two with less than two minutes to go in the half.
The play showed Colts nose tackle Josh Chapman getting into the backfield and tripping up BenJarvus Green-Ellis before the Bengals running back stumbled and eventually falling short of the goal line.
However, the officials over turned the call on the field and Green-Ellis was awarded a two-yard touchdown run to give the Bengals a 14-0 halftime lead.
Luck finished the day 29-of-46 for 326 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rogers (107 receiving yards and two touchdowns) and Brazill (53 receiving yards and two touchdowns) paced the Colts offense.
The Colts magic number to clinch the AFC South remains one with the Titans heading to Denver for a 4:05 p.m. EST kickoff this afternoon.
Indianapolis will return home next Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. EST kickoff against the Houston Texans (2-11)
FIRST QUARTER (8:03 remaining)
After forcing a three-and-out to start the game, the Bengals marched right down the field before their 82-yard drive ended with a 29-yard touchdown catch by Marvin Jones. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton was 6-of-7 on the drive for 81 yards and completed a pair of third-down passes. Kicker Mike Nugent hit the extra point. Bengals 7, Colts 0
SECOND QUARTER (1:06 remaining)
On a fourth-and-two run late in the half, it appeared the Colts had Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis stopped short of the goal line. But after review of the play, officials ruled that Green-Ellis got into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown. Nugent made the extra point. Bengals 14, Colts 0
THIRD QUARTER (10:41 remaining)
Cincinnati took the opening possession of the second half and drove right down the field before BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored from a yard out. The drive took nine plays and 80 yards, including an A.J. Green 22-yard third-down reception. Nugent added the extra point. Bengals 21, Colts 0
THIRD QUARTER (9:57 remaining)
On just his third catch in the NFL, undrafted rookie Da'Rick Rogers took an Andrew Luck pass, broke several tackles and scampered 69 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown came on a third-and-six and was the Colts first third-down conversion of the afternoon. Kicker Adam Vinatieri converted the extra point. Bengals 21, Colts 7
THIRD QUARTER (6:28 remaining)
It was yet another outstanding play by a Colts receiver. This time it was second-year man LaVon Brazill breaking six Bengals tackles for a 19-yard touchdown, his second of his NFL career. Vinatieri hit the extra point. Bengals 21, Colts 14
THIRD QUARTER (3:05 remaining)
Cincinnati answered the Colts touchdown with a kickoff return to the Bengals 40-yard line then a 60-yard touchdown drive. The Bengals scored on a one-yard reception by tight end Jermaine Gresham, giving the two teams four touchdowns in five drives to start the second half. Nugent made the extra point. Bengals 28, Colts 14
FOURTH QUARTER (13:25 remaining)
After the Colts went three-and-out following the Gresham touchdown, the Bengals wasted no time going back to work. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green caught a nine-yard fade pass to cap off a seven-play, 59-yard touchdown drive. Nugent added the extra point. Bengals 35, Colts 14
FOURH QUARTER (9:48 remaining)
The Colts won't go away as Brazill scored his second touchdown of the day, this one from 29 yards out to bring Indianapolis back within two scores. In the second half, Luck is 8-of-12 for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Vinatieri converted the extra point. Bengals 35, Colts 21
FOURH QUARTER (4:03 remaining)
Another big return by the Bengals special teams unit set up a short field for the Cincinnati offense. A 29-yard drive ended with Dalton tucking it for an eight-yard touchdown. Nugent connected on the extra point. Bengals 42, Colts 21
FOURH QUARTER (1:20 remaining)
The coming out party for Rogers continued with a two-yard touchdown. On the day, Rogers has six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Luck has thrown for 326 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Vinatieri made the extra point. Bengals 42, Colts 28