CINCINNATI -- Kerry Collins' arrival in Indianapolis created the pre-game stir, and the veteran quarterback produced a workmanlike performance in his Colts debut.
But it was Dan Orlovsky who led the Colts to a 17-13 comeback victory Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Orlovsky engineered a pair of second-half touchdowns as he completed 10-of-18 passes for 178 yards and a score.
The Colts finished the preseason at 1-3 with a victory that pleased Coach Jim Caldwell.
"The guys hung in there," Caldwell said. "And particularly in the second half, they did a nice job of holding (the Bengals') offense where they couldn't score touchdowns and had to kick field goals, and it gave us a chance to hang around and win it."
Collins, the 17th-year veteran who signed with the Colts last week, played most of the first half and completed 5-of-10 passes for 45 yards.
"It's kind of like you'd expect," Caldwell said about Collins' performance. "It's not going to be perfect. … In terms of managing things at the line of scrimmage and how he handled himself in those situations, I think things were good the first time around."
Orlovsky relieved Collins for one series in the first half and finished the game. Orlovsky led the Colts on an early fourth-quarter touchdown drive with completions of 54 yards to Taj Smith and 28 yards to Darren Evans. Evans' 1-yard plunge tied the game at 10.
After Cincinnati went up on Mike Nugent's 24-yard field goal, Orlovsky went back to work. His completions of 26 yards to Chris Brooks and 14 and 23 yards to Smith preceded a seven-yard TD throw to Smith. It proved to be the game-winner.
Said Orlovsky: "I love football and I love being in that position, being the guy and having fun doing it."
Indianapolis put the victory away when Kevin Thomas intercepted Dan LeFevour's pass in the final minute.
Smith led Colts receivers with eight catches for 140 yards.
The Colts struggled in their running game, gaining just 45 yards on 22 attempts. The Bengals totaled 159 on 37 attempts.
The Bengals, with a 10-3 halftime lead, held a hefty edge in first-half yardage, outgaining the visitors 205-36. Cincinnati had 15 first downs to Indy's three.
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski completed 7-of-7 passes for 53 yards in the Bengals' touchdown drive in the second quarter. He led both first-half scoring marches for Cincinnati and totaled 13-of-16 passing for 83 yards in the first 30 minutes.
The Colts' offense had trouble stringing together successful plays in the first half. Collins' fumble on a sack short-circuited Indy's second drive of the game. Michael Johnson slammed into Collins from his blind-side and Frostee Rucker recovered.
At halftime, Caldwell wasn't happy with the Colts' running game. They totaled just two first-half rushing yards, compared to 79 for Cincinnati.
"The big thing is, we have to be able to run the ball more consistently," Caldwell said during a halftime interview. "We didn't run the ball well, and we didn't do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. From an offensive standpoint, that's what we have to make sure we do."
The Colts' defense made a big play in the first quarter when linebacker Pat Angerer picked up a fumble by A.J. Green and returned it 23 yards. The play defused a 12-play march that had taken Cincinnati to Indy's 13-yard line.
FIRST QUARTER (11:40 remaining)
The Colts got on the scoreboard first when Adam Vinatieri hit a 23-yard field goal. A big penalty set up the three-pointer. On Indy's opening play, Kerry Collins aimed a deep pass at David Gilreath, who was knocked down by Cincinnati's Taylor Mays for a 44-yard penalty that put the ball at the Bengals' 10-yard line. Colts 3, Bengals 0
SECOND QUARTER (13:43 remaining)
The Bengals tied the score with a 25-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. The scoring drive was set up by Collins' fumble when he was hit by pass rusher Michael Johnson. Frostee Rucker recovered and Cincinnati took over at the Indy 46. The Bengals then staged a nine-play, 39-yard drive preceding Nugent's kick. Bengals 3, Colts 3
SECOND QUARTER (4:59 remaining)
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski got hot for the Bengals, hitting all seven of his passes for 53 yards as he led his club on a 13-play, 64-yard march. Halfback Cedric Peerman scored from the 1-yard line. Thomas Weber kicked the extra point. Bengals 10, Colts 3
FOURTH QUARTER (13:31 remaining)
The Colts tied it up thanks to two big pass plays by Dan Orlovsky. The first, on the drive's opening play, went 54 yards to Taj Smith. Later, Orlovsky hit running back Darren Evans for a screen pass that went 28 yards. Then, on fourth down at Cincinnati's 1-yard line, Evans scored the touchdown, stretching over the goal line. The Colts pushed 95 yards on nine plays in the march. Pat McAfee kicked the extra point. Colts 10, Bengals 10
FOURTH QUARTER (6:19 remaining)
The Bengals took the lead on a 15-play, 72-yard drive that was extended by four first downs. Nugent capped it with a 24-yard field goal. Bengals 13, Colts 10
FOURTH QUARTER (1:08 remaining)
The Colts went ahead thanks to Orlovsky's strong play. He completed passes of 26, 14, 23 and seven yards on the game-winning drive. The seven-yarder went to Taj Smith for the touchdown. The march consisted of nine plays for 75 yards. McAfee booted the extra point. Colts 17, Bengals 13