Hill shines as Bengals beat Colts in game devoid of starters
AUG 28, 2014 10:05p ET
Andy Dalton practiced some drop kicks in shorts before the game, the most activity he got all night.
And he was in the majority when it came to spending time standing around.
Running back Jeremy Hill didn't have it nearly so easy.
Dalton and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck sat out, as did most of the starters for both teams. Dalton didn't even pull up his black socks, leaving them around his ankles on an 85-degree evening -- he knew there was no point.
Hill, a second-round pick who backs up Giovani Bernard, carried 20 times and had a team-high six catches for 70 yards. He hurt his right elbow late in the first half but returned. The Bengals were thin at running back, so Hill knew he was going to play most of the game.
"I put myself in position for whatever role I might be needed in," Hill said.
Coach Marvin Lewis hopes to use Bernard and Hill a lot in a revitalized running game.
"Jeremy got to understand what it's like to be an NFL running back," Lewis said. "We're not five deep. If he's going to be that guy, he's going to have to shoulder the load."
Hill turned a short pass into a 41-yard gain, showing how he'll give the Bengals another receiving option out of the backfield.
"We came into tonight knowing that he was going to get the ball," said Jason Campbell, who was 13 of 16 for 123 yards. "We just wanted him to get into a rhythm and get the feel of what it's like. He runs hard. What I was proudest of was he was able to catch that screen pass and get some yardage."
Cincinnati (2-2) pulled off three big plays in the second half against the backups of the Colts (0-4).
Dane Sanzenbacher returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown. Safety Danieal Manning intercepted Chandler Harnish's pass and ran it back 33 yards for a score. Cobi Hamilton turned a short catch into a 50-yard TD.
End Margus Hunt had three sacks, completing a preseason that saw him emerge as an important component in the Bengals' line rotation.
"He's just continued to strive and push hard and get better," Lewis said. "He should dominate in a game like this and he did."
Harnish played the entire game and went 13 of 24 for 102 yards with five sacks. He threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers, who kicked the ball in celebration and was penalized.
Colts linebacker Robert Mathis didn't play, heading quietly into his four-game suspension. Mathis was suspended for breaking the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances and can't be with the team for the next month. He said he took a fertility drug to help his wife get pregnant.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict sat out a day after he signed a three-year contract extension that will pay him a maximum $20.05 million through 2017. Burfict strained his right hamstring on Sunday during a preseason game in Arizona.
The game drew 42,020 fans -- leaving more than 23,000 empty seats -- and was sloppy with so many backups on the field.
On one play, Harnish overthrew receiver Donte Moncrief so badly that the ball flew behind the helmet of Rogers, who was getting ready to block on the play. The Colts had a fourth-and-2 at the Cincinnati 10-yard line and went for it, only to have Zurlon Tipton tackled in the backfield.
Notes: Colts G Joe Reitz hurt his left ankle in the first quarter. X-rays were negative. The injury was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. ... LB Andrew Jackson hurt his right ankle/foot in the closing minutes and had to be helped off. ... Bengals LB Sean Porter suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter, Cincinnati's only setback. ... LB J.K. Schaffer (concussion) and CB Lavelle Westbrooks (thumb) cleared waivers and reverted to Cincinnati's injured reserve list.