Colts 20, Bengals 16

The Indianapolis Colts newcomers may have just made Chuck

Pagano’s next task that much harder.

With cut-down day looming, rookie quarterback Chandler Harnish,

Mr. Irrelevant, led the Colts on three touchdown drives and threw a

42-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Dominique Jones with

6:54 left in the game to give Indy a 20-16 victory over

Cincinnati.

Now the Colts coach must decide who stays, who goes and who

might return on the practice squad.

”It’s extremely tough because these guys have worked their

whole lives, dreamed of something their whole lives since Pop

Warner really, and we have 22 bags to pack tomorrow at some

point,” Pagano said. ”It’s extremely tough.”

Harnish made his case during his most extensive – and impressive

– action of the preseason.

On a night that Andrew Luck followed the script and left after

one series, and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton improvised and

departed after six plays after bruising his throwing arm, it was

the backups who shined.

Deji Karim and Darren Evans each rushed for touchdowns for Indy

(2-2).

Jones, another rookie, made a nifty catch on Harnish’s final

pass, eluded one tackle and broke another as he ran down the right

side of the field and overpowered his way into the end zone.

Linebacker Moise Fokou, whom Indy acquired in a trade with

Philadelphia, had 13 tackles, broke up two passes and forced a

fumble, and Harnish, dubbed Mr. Irrelevant as the last pick in the

draft, wound up 9 of 16 for 162 yards with one TD pass – the

winning score.

”I don’t know if satisfied is the word I’d use,” Harnish said.

”I’d say confident. We do feel pretty pumped up about what we did

(winning). You can only do so much. I think there’s been a lot of

good things for myself and the unit.”

The biggest scare for Cincinnati came on its sixth offensive

play when an offensive line already playing without starting center

Kyle Cook broke down. Robert Mathis honed in on Dalton, hitting him

on his throwing arm. Dalton stayed down briefly, then got up,

walked toward the sideline and dropped to the ground again where

trainers appeared to look at his right elbow.

Fortunately for the Bengals (2-2), the injury wasn’t as bad as

it looked.

”It was a stupid thing where my hand went a little numb, kind

of like getting hit in the funny bone,” Dalton explained. ”I wish

it didn’t happen, but it did. I’ll be ready to go (for the season

opener).”

Injuries and decisions kept the backups in the spotlight all

night.

At times, Harnish dazzled his home-state fans with strong throws

and quick strikes. The three TD drives consumed a total of 5

minutes, 58 seconds.

But between the scores, it was a long, ugly game for the I-74

rivals that traditionally close out the preseason.

Indy managed only one first down in the first 26 minutes and

drew five of its 10 penalties in the first 20 minutes.

Cincinnati (2-2) struggled, too, committing 14 penalties and

giving the Colts too many extra opportunities.

Seven-year NFL veteran Bruce Gradkowski replaced Dalton and led

the Bengals to three first-half scoring drives. He finished 12 of

19 for 95 yards with one TD. Zac Robinson played the entire second

half for the Bengals and wound up 16 of 22 for 140 yards.

Cincinnati took an early 10-0 lead, trailed 14-13 at halftime

and then regained the lead when Mike Nugent’s 22-yard field goal

midway through the third quarter made it 16-14.

The Bengals couldn’t hold either one.

”I thought the ability of the first group to go out there and

play with a great tempo early in the football game, they came out

and got off to a good start, and that’s what we were looking for,”

coach Marvin Lewis said. ”It was a battle with the rest of the

guys, the rest of the way down. We were short on numbers.”

Harnish took advantage of those problems.

He got the Colts into the end zone twice in the final 2:28 of

the first half. Deji Karim ran 7 yards for Indy’s first score and

Darren Evans scored on a 1-yard run after the Bengals were called

for pass interference in the end zone.

Suddenly, Indy led 14-10.

And when the Colts needed another big play, Harnish hooked up

with Jones, who made a nifty catch on the move, eluded one tackle

and broke another as he headed toward the end zone for the win.

”I think a lot of kudos to Chandler, coming in with the other

guys and putting points on the board and finishing it out,” Luck

said.

NOTES: Both teams benched five starters Thursday. Indy played

without receiver Austin Collie, cornerback Jerraud Powers,

defensive end Cory Redding and left guard Joe Reitz and rush

linebacker Dwight Freeney. The Bengals kept center Kyle Cook,

defensive end Carlos Dunlap, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis,

tight end Jermaine Gresham and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga on

the sideline. … The New Castle, Ind., team that went to the

Little League World Series was recognized on the field before the

game. … Former Ohio State running back Daniel Herron led the

Bengals in rushing with 15 carries for 29 yards. … Karim led the

Colts with 12 carries for 36 yards.

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