Now with a 17-7 lead and a Taylor Mays dominated performance on special teams to limit Indianapolis' return to the 12-yard line, the Colts offense was limited on first down (one-yard reception by Jacob Tamme) and a four-yard run by Delone Carter, the defense needed to prevent the Colts from picking up five yards on third down. It helps that the Colts were called for a delay of game, setting up a third-and-ten with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. Curtis Painter takes the shotgun and throws over the middle in a floater that was nearly picked off by Nate Clements. The Bengals declined the offensive pass interference, forcing the Colts to punt.
Brandon Tate followed up his 33-yard return with a a decent return forcing at least three tacklers to miss. Now his dancing prevented him from moving upfield and Morgan Trent was called for holding that negated Tate's seven-yard return, putting the Bengals offense at their own 19-yard line after Donald Lee was called for a false start. After a limited four-yard gain, Andy Dalton rolled out right after faking the handoff and found A.J. Green down the right sidelines for a 22-yard gain and the first down. Bernard Scott followed that up with a gashing rush that picked up another six yard gain.
After a limited one-yard gain on a pitch right, the Bengals line up at the Colts 49-yard line with four yards needed on third down. An Andrew Whitworth false start pushes the Bengals back to their own 46-yard line, forcing the Bengals to gain nine yards on third down with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Andy Dalton takes the snap and throws to Brian Leonard on a middle screen. The offensive line destroyed their blocks, opening lanes for Leonard to pick up 13 yards and the first down at Indianapolis' 42-yard line.
Scott continues to get the work, picking up eight yards, avoiding a Pat Angerer tackle that could have lost yardage in the backfield. On the following play, Dalton faked the handoff to Scott and hit him over the middle on a hitch, wide open for a five-yard gain and the first down. Cincinnati's drive eventually stalled after a one-yard loss by Scott and a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage by Robert Mathis on a quick pass to A.J. Green to the right.
Eleven yards needed on third down with just over three minutes remaining, Dalton takes the handoff and quickly completes the pass to Andre Caldwell over the middle, falling seven yards short of the first down. Mike Nugent converts the 43-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 20-7 lead with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter .