The Bengals wrapped up the preseason on Thursday with a game against the Colts, who happen to be their Week 1 opponent in the regular season.
The Bengals were on top all game but ended up falling to their I-74 neighbors, 27-26. With the loss, the Bengals avoided finishing the preseason undefeated and instead finish off their meaningless stretch of games 3-1. The regular season can’t arrive soon enough.
Jeff Driskel was a solid 14 of 20 for 116 yards, 1 touchdown, and a 101.2 rating. Most of those yards came on the final drive of the first half, which started on the Bengals’ 15-yard line, but because of penalties, ended up netting a total of 90 yards. Rookie Logan Woodside, who entered the game in the second half, had a less spectacular night with only seven completions on 14 attempts and 88 yards. Running back Brian Hill had a great performance, carrying the ball for 38 yards on eight attempts.
On the defensive side of the ball, Hardy Nickerson helped his cause by collecting seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Rookie linebacker Malik Jefferson improved his stock with a solid performance. Jefferson had seven tackles and was in on some crucial stops, including stuffing Branden Oliver on fourth-and-one near midfield.
Malik Jefferson with a stop on fourth-one at midfield (5:44 remaining in the second). pic.twitter.com/990boMeRvs— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 31, 2018
Matt Barkley started the game, but had to leave during his second series due to an injury. Driskel entered and helped the Bengals cash in on a Colts fumble, which was recovered by Brandon Bell.
The Bengals rushed for 40 yards on their first scoring drive, which ended in a one-yard rushing touchdown from Tra Carson. With Carson’s second touchdown of the preseason and Jonathan Brown’s extra point, the Bengals jumped ahead 7-0 with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
Tra Carson punches it into the endzone @PlutoCarson pic.twitter.com/tRtr1vqFLo— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) August 30, 2018
The Colts answered as Jacoby Brissett helped his offense convert on four-straight third downs on their next drive. Christine Michael set the Colts up on the two-yard line with a 32-yard run and Brissett hit Zach Pascal with a two-yard rocket for the score. The extra point from the ageless wonder, Michael Badgley, leveled the score at seven with 12:11 to go in the first half.
The Bengals would later score their second touchdown following another fumble recovery, after running back Branden Oliver fumbled the exchange with quarterback Phillip Walker on his first snap of the game. Hardy Nickerson returned the ball to the four-yard line and Mark Walton ran the ball into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
Hardy Nickerson Jr gets fumble recovery @younghardy_ pic.twitter.com/W5zTMue4PV— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) August 30, 2018
Mark Walton rushing TD @_Hungry_1 pic.twitter.com/0k0ntP9SWx— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) August 31, 2018
Brown missed the extra point after being backed up by a penalty from backup center Brad Lundblade, but the Bengals regained the lead with 8:25 left in the second quarter, up 13-7.
After the two-minute warning, Driskel drove 90 yards to further extend the lead. Driskel went to Mason Schreck three times and ended the drive with a 20-yard pass to Josh Malone in the corner of the end zone. Malone was able to keep his feet in bounds and the score held up after a review. With only two seconds remaining in the half, Brown made the extra point to extend the lead to 20-7 going into halftime.
Josh Malone TD catch pic.twitter.com/u1wmNe7jQ3— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 31, 2018
The Colts received the second-half kickoff and had little trouble moving the chains. Olvier took a short throw from Walker for 32 yards, and followed it up a few plays later with a two-yard run for the touchdown. With Badgley’s extra point, the score was 20-14 with 11:33 to go in the third quarter.
Logan Woodside took over from Driskel in the second half, and, with the help of a couple penalties worked his way to the red zone. The Bengals settled for a 21-yard field goal from Brown with 6:16 to go in the third quarter, but the three-pointer was Woodside’s first scoring drive this preseason.
The next Bengals drive was just as productive. Brian Hill ran for 22 yards on three carries and Quinton Flowers carried the ball twice, gaining eight yards on a drive that got down to the one-yard line. But the offense failed to penetrate the goal line, so Brown was called on again for another 21-yard kick. The Bengals were now up 26-14 with 12:58 left in the game.
Walker manufactured an efficient drive on the Colts’ next possession, going five-for-six with 38 yards and a touchdown on a seven yard pass to Seantavius Jones. After Badgley nailed the extra point, the Colts were creeping up on the Bengals, with Cincinnati leading 26-21, with 6:06 remaining in the game.
The Colts looked like they might make some noise late in the game, but Trayvon Henderson, an undrafted rookie safety out of Hawaii, picked off Walker deep in Bengals’ territory. Unfortunately for Henderson, he injured his leg when he made a cut on the return and had to be carted off the field.
Walker gave a valiant effort to get his team back in the game after the two-minute warning, rifling a 39-yard pass to Nyheim Hines. That pass set up a 28-yard touchdown to former Bengals receiver Cobi Hamilton. The two point conversion failed, but the Colts had their first lead, 27-26 with 1:12 left in the game.
Woodside failed to mount the comeback, so the score held up with the Colts on top. The Bengals suffered their first of loss of the preseason, by only one point.
The Bengals will go to Indianapolis to avenge the loss next Sunday to open the regular season, with the result counting toward playoff qualification.