INDIANAPOLIS –With the preseason dwindling to the final game, most of the Colts' starters moved to the sideline and the team's reserves took center stage.
Clayton Geathers and Duron Carter thrived in that limelight.
Geathers, a safety, recorded five tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in the Colts' 9-6 loss to visiting Cincinnati on Thursday night. Carter provided offense from his wide receiver position, catching five passes for 85 yards.
The Colts' defense held Cincinnati to three field goals in the game while Indy booted two. Carter accounted for two receptions for 46 yards on one of Indy's field goal drives.
"I'm proud of our guys," Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said. "They played hard. We were on the short end of the stick. We wanted to win the football game. That didn't happen, but young guys went out there and they played their tails off. It wasn't pretty, but they fought."
Now comes the difficult part for Pagano and his staff. The Colts have to cut 22 players by Saturday afternoon to get to their final roster of 53. Indianapolis will open the regular season on Sept. 13 at Buffalo.
One of the Colts' best opportunities to score seven came on their first possession of the third quarter.
A fumble recovery by Geathers gave Indy possession at the Cincinnati 33-yard line. Bryan Bennett's pass to Carter provided a quick 24-yard gain.
However, the Colts' drive bogged down in the red zone. They decided to go for the touchdown on fourth down from the 4. Bennett, who passed for 170 yards on 15-of-25, saw his throw into the end zone get intercepted.
The Colts finished their preseason at 1-3. The Bengals were 3-1.
SECOND QUARTER (7:18 remaining)
Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent put his team on the scoreboard first with a 41-yard field goal. The Bengals' scoring drive – seven plays, 63 yards – really boiled down to one big play. Quarterback A.J. McCarron connected with Brandon Tate for a 48-yard pass completion before Colts cornerback D'Joun Smith dragged Tate down. Bengals 3. Colts 0.
SECOND QUARTER (4 seconds remaining)
Nugent extended the Bengals' lead with another field goal, this one from 35 yards. McCarron's pass to Tate for 11 yards and his throw to Greg Little for nine provided the yardage to push Nugent into position. Bengals 6, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (3:44 remaining)
Kicker Adam Vinatieri gave the Colts their first points with a 26-yard field goal. Quarterback Bryan Bennett completed a 20-yard pass to Vincent Brown and a 6-yarder to Sean McGrath for first downs. Tyler Varga recorded a 38-yard run. Bengals 6, Colts 3.
FOURTH QUARTER (9:26 remaining)
Vinatieri tied the game with a 26-yard field goal. The Indy offense got untracked behind some nice play by Bennett and wide receiver Duron Carter. Bennett was 3-of-5 passing on the series, including a 42-yard completion to Carter on the opening play. Bennett also had a 14-yard scramble.Colts 6, Bengals 6.
FOURTH QUARTER (2:49 remaining)
Kicker Tom Obarski booted a 28-yard field goal to put Cincinnati ahead. The score was set up by a big defensive play by the Bengals. Chris Carter strip-sacked the Colts' Bennett and Marcus Hardison recovered. Bengals 9, Colts 6.