With just over a minute left in the first half, Ryan Fitzpatrick took a three-step drop and fired a pass to his right. Jerome Simpson, running an easy slant route, was cut off by Kelvin Hayden, who intercepted the pass at the Cincinnati 37-yard line. After shoving a defender in the face, Chris Henry was called for a personal foul, improving the Colts' spot from the Cincinnati 15-yard line to the seven-yard line. After a minimal Joseph Addai gain, Peyton Manning completed a five-yard pass to Marvin Harrison at the front right pylon for the touchdown. Colts lead, 14-3 heading into half time. They open the second half with the ball, run 15 plays in 8:45 and score another touchdown. Colts lead, 21-3.
While we've been severely disappointed in Fitzpatrick's play, obviously assisted by one of the league's worst offensive lines, this interception wasn't his fault. Simpson stopped his route, allowing Hayden to beat him to the spot for the interception.
The Bengals were only down 7-3, starting their fifth drive at their own 25-yard line with 11 seconds outside the two minute warning. If Simpson makes the reception, the Bengals pick up the first down and sustain the drive. Heck, even if he doesn't make the reception, if he prevents Hayden from beating him to the spot, the pass is incomplete and the Bengals punt. Not that Kyle Larson will punt it 60 yards, but the Colts would be with worse field position than the Bengals seven-yard line.
Instead, Simpson's lack of effort (we suppose we can call it that), led to the Bengals allowing two touchdowns before seeing the ball again, save for a knee to kill the first half. Marvin Lewis is still high on Simpson.
This guy has worked his tail off and unfortunately, yesterday, he didn't have all stellar football plays. But he's our guy, and he's going to be our guy for a long time. And I like him and everything about him. We've just got to get him to play better and understand his responsibilities and the competitiveness of an NFL field. You're out here playing for lunch tickets. and if you don't get it, that guy's going to take yours. So let's make sure we get it done. I think it's a good learning experience.
Sometimes the only way they get a chance to learn is to go out and play. He got more opportunity yesterday than he's gotten all year when it counted, and even though it didn't all turn out well, it was good experience for him. Something for him to grow upon. That being said, hopefully we get a chance to keep him suited up the rest of the year. Our injuries have been where they've been, and we've had the extra spots. Even though he hasn't played a lot in the games, we've had the opportunity to do some things to get him in the games. And so hopefully, I'll have some of that latitude the rest of the way with numbers.
In truth, thank goodness it happened this year. The so-called impromptu rebuilding year, finally allowing younger, less established guys to take their turn on the field. Hopefully this doesn't translate to next season, otherwise, from Mike Brown's perspective, Chris Henry might be "needed" again.