Updated: Sep 11, 2018
A 17-point, 4th-quarter rally saw the Cincinnati Bengals ruin the return of Andrew Luck. In his first start in nearly 20 months after suffering a tough shoulder injury, the Indianapolis Colts’ star QB made his return in front of a home crowd.
With no one knowing what to expect from Luck following such a long hiatus from football, the QB put up solid numbers and remained cool under pressure. Luck went 39-53 for 319 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. With 53 passes, almost double the amount of passes Andy Dalton attempted, it was clear that the coaching staff had confidence in Luck from the beginning of the game. Apart from an underthrown pass to tight end Jack Doyle on Luck’s first throw of the game that led to a Cincinnati interception, Luck displayed poise in the pocket under constant pressure from a tenacious Cincinnati defensive rush. In fact, Luck wash able to lead the Colts to a 23-10 lead midway through the 3rd-quarter. However, bringing back flashbacks from previous years, the Colts were not able to seal the deal and the Bengals mounted a comeback.
Sept. 9, 2018 - Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
Led by Dalton, who went 21-28 for 243 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, the Bengals displayed a balanced passing and running game that helped them rally late in the game. Joe Mixon led the running game with 17 carries for 95 yards and A.J. Green led the passing attack with 6 receptions for 92 yards. Both players also accounted for a touchdown a piece. Having a balanced running and passing game was a key part of the Bengal’s comeback, and it kept the Indianapolis defense on their toes and guessing. After going down 23-10, Dalton led the Bengal’s offense on an 8 play, 75 yard drive that cut the lead to 6. The Colts were not able to respond, as usually reliable kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal. Again, Dalton took the offense on another long drive to score a touchdown and retake the lead.
With the lead gone and the Bengals adding another field goal to take a 27-23 lead, Luck led a last-ditch drive by the Colts that made it as far as the Bengals’ 30 yard line. However, it ended in disaster as backup safety Clayton Fejedelem forced a fumble by the Colts’ Jack Doyle and took it to the endzone for an 83 yard fumble recovery. That would seal the deal for a Bengals’ season-opening win.
Bengals: With a 17-point fourth-quarter comeback, the Bengals showed a resilience that they often times lack. A balanced passing and running attack, along with two takeaways on defense, should give the Bengals confidence heading into next game
Colts: While not the result they were hoping for, the Colts should be pleased with the way Andrew Luck played overall and the poise he showed under pressure. While the defense started out the game playing well, giving up 17-straight points to close out the game will leave a bad taste and will need to be addressed.
Bengals: At home against Baltimore on Thursday night
Colts: On the road against Washington