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Bengals can’t find the end zone in 13-6 loss to Colts

Jake Dolegala was slinging the ball, but a key OPI call proved costly in a one-score defeat to wrap up preseason play.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Colts came into Cincinnati for the annual I-74 Bowl in Preseason Week 4.

Jake Dolegala and Rodney Anderson were the starters in the backfield for the Bengals, working with Cody Core, Ventell Bryant and Josh Malone on the offense.

Dolegala threw 30 passes, completing 25 of them and compiling 239 yards. He didn’t throw any picks but lost one fumble. While Dolegala was able to move the ball down to the field, he never figured out how to get the ball into the end zone.

This wouldn’t have been a problem with reliable kicking, but Tristan Vizcaino missed half of his attempts on the night, one from 56 yards and one from 38.

Speaking of things you don’t want to see, Rodney Anderson only compiled five carries before limping off the field and exiting the game.

Quinton Flowers and Jordan Ellis helped pick up the slack in the running game, rushing for 74 yards between their 15 combined carries.

On the defensive side of the ball, Andrew Billing played beside Jordan Willis on the line, with Willis getting a sack on the second snap of the game. Davontae Harris, Tony McRae, and Hardy Nickerson, all who are battling for roster spots, rounded out the back end of the defense.

Each of the first three drives resulted in punts, until Colts PR Penny Hart muffed the punt f and Bengals LS Dan Godsil recovered the fumble. However, Rodney Anderson couldn’t convert the fourth down conversion, so the Colts ended up getting the ball anyways.

The turnovers continued as Colts drove down he field and looked like they might threaten to score. Darius Phillips put a stop to their momentum while covering rookie WR Parris Campbell, and picked off QB Chad Kelly to get the ball for the Bengals on their own 5-yard line.

Dolegala had some great plays to get the ball down the field. He hit Core perfectly in stride for a 39-yard gain to get the ball near midfield. A few plays later, he made a great throw to his favorite receiver, Bryant, where only he could get it, and the receiver made a great grab to secure the ball.

But Dolegala was unable to find the end zone, so the Bengals had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Tristan Vizcaino with 10:59 to go in the second quarter to take a 3-0 lead.

The Colts looked to answer the score, thanks to a 40-yard reception from Campbell. The drive ended on a third-and-two play when Kelly faked the hand off and ran it into the end zone for a seven yard touchdown. Cole Hedlund converted the extra point, and the Colts jumped out ahead 7-3 with 5:50 left in the first half.

The Bengals’ offense was red-hot when they saw the field again. Dolegala connected with Malone for a 21-yard gain on an excellent grab, and rookie RB Jordan Ellis followed that up with a 16-yard run. But the Bengals’ offense burned out quickly, so Vizcaino came out for a 56-yard field goal. He put plenty of leg on it, but hit the left upright.

At the half, the Bengals’ running game continued their struggles that they’ve had all preseason. Anderson had only two yard on five carries, and Ellis had 14 yards on five carries despite having a 16-yard long. Dolegala offset some of the offense’s struggles with his live arm, going 15 for 21 and 160 yards.

The Colts made a change at quarterback at halftime, going with Philip Walker under center in the second half. Walker couldn’t do much, so the Colts punted the ball to Darius Phillips. While it appeared Philips took the return to the house, the touchdown was called back thanks to a block in the back penalty on Trayvon Henderson.

The Bengals punted again, and Davontae Harris, who was fighting for his job in this game, timed his hit perfectly to force Hart to cough up the ball. Godsil recovered the ball again and the Bengals got the ball back on the Colts’ nine-yard line. The Bengals couldn’t get a first down, so Vizcaino came in for a 37-yard kick and pulled it left.

The Bengals finally gave up their first turnover in the middle of the third quarter. DE Carroll Philips beat John Jerry around the edge and punched the ball out of Dolegala’s hands to give the Colts possession at the Bengals’ 16-yard line. The Colts converted the turnover into a 30-yard field goal, and extended their lead 10-3 with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

The Colts’ running game finally got going, and they moved the ball down to the red zone. The Bengals’ defense didn’t break, though, and the Colts were forced to look to Hedlund’s leg. He converted the 36-yard kick and the Colts extended their lead again to 13-3 with 2:55 left in the third quarter.

The Bengals got the ball back and Dolegala went back to work. The rookie signal caller went four for five with 36 yards on the drive. The drive ended when the offensive line broke down and Dolegala took a huge sack. Vizcaino nailed the 38-yard field goal with 12:10 left in the game and cut the deficit to 13-6.

RB Quinton Flowers put together the best drive of his career on the next drive. He gained 36 yards on his first two carries, but the best moment of the drive was his five-yard touchdown reception, but it was unfortunately wiped out due to a pass interference that was called on Mason Schreck during a review. Dolegala found Flowers again, but this time Flowers was a yard short of the end zone. The Bengals went for it on fourth down and handed the ball off to Flowers, but he couldn’t get past the line of scrimmage.

The Colts ran down the clock to close out the game, winning 13-6.

With the starters rested up and the fringe players making their final cases, all eyes will be on the coaching staff as they assemble the 53-man roster by Sunday.

The Bengals, 1-3 in the preseason, will head to Seattle to open the regular season against the Seahawks.