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Film: Bengals defense held their own in round one against the Colts.

The Cincinnati Bengals defense applied the bend-but-don't-break philosophy and had it not been for an offense shooting blanks, they would have been the stars of Cincinnati's week seven game against the Colts.

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Cincinnati suffered a crushing defeat against the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year. The world witnessed another collapsing effort led by the team's offense, who failed to generate a first down through the first 29:01 of the game. At the end of the day, the Colts sent many Cincinnati fans (and even some media) spiraling down a well of depression realizing just how awful the Bengals are against good teams this season.

It wasn't a total loss though; well, not in the technical definition of the term. Had the Bengals offense generated some momentum, a few first downs and a handful of points, the defense would have had their rest against a Colts offense that had the ball for nearly 40 minutes with 78 plays run. In fact, the Bengals defense actually played well considering the circumstances.


The Cincinnati Bengals defense quickly dispensed of Andrew Luck and the Colts defense on the game's opening possession. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap combined for a pass rush that forced Luck into a poor throw against good coverage that defended against developing routes.


Geno ATkins GIF Colts

Incomplete... and a perfect example of what the Bengals didn't do last week against the Steelers. Leon Hall dropped T.Y. Hilton for a one-yard loss on second down after immediately identifying a wide receiver screen and fighting through Reggie Wayne's block without much of an issue.

Leon Hall Colts GIF

Dwayne Allen was wide open on third and 11 with 14:20 remaining in the first from the Colts 19-yard line, but Cincinnati's zone coverage would have held Allen short of a first down.


The pass bounced off Allen's fingers, leading to a three-and-out and a Pat McAfee punt.


Indianapolis pieced together a decent possession with 12 minutes remaining in the first quarter, moving from their own 20-yard to the Bengals 41. That's where the Colts stalled. On first down with 10:11 remaining in the first quarter, Andrew Luck, seeing that two of his options were sealed with double-coverage, stepped up towards the line of scrimmage. Off-balanced with the pass-rush compressing his pocket, Luck flipped the football towards Reggie Wayne's out-and-up down the right sidelines, but well out of bounds.

Bengals Colts

Luck targeted T.Y. Hilton's out-route on second down...

Bengals Colts

...however he threw an off-target pass because of Devon Still's pass rush that ended in direct view of Luck's intended target.

Colts Bengals




With 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Colts had third down and 10 from the Bengals 41-yard line. Luck targets T.Y. Hilton's crossing route over the middle with Leon Hall providing decent coverage. Adam Jones unleashes a brutal hit that disjointed the football away from receiver. Incomplete and the Colts punted.


The Cincinnati Bengals defense acquired a personality all season that's characterized as a bend-but-don't-break philosophy, toughening up when points could be scored. This was the early theme to the game on Oct. 19. Indianapolis, starting from their own 39-yard line with 8:31 remaining in the first, reached the Bengals 18-yard line with 6:34 remaining.

Andrew Luck handed off to running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who benefited with an offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage.

Colts and Bengals

Bradshaw looked left but then bounced to right where Reggie Nelson plugged the only available gap. Colliding into the mass of humanity, Bradshaw redirected left while desperately looking for a lane. Carlos Dunlap came from behind and stripped the football, which was recovered by Adam Jones.

Bengals Colts GIF Fumble Bradshaw

Cincinnati would go three-and-out after the fumble recovery, concluding the first quarter with nine plays, 16 yards, zero first downs and a whole lot of frustration. Defensively, the Bengals would give up 10 points on the ensuing two possessions, taking a 10-0 lead and then losing another fumble and then three successive three-and-out possessions to end the first half.

The fumble, a botched handoff with 8:21 remaining in the second quarter, stopped another Indianapolis scoring effort.


Indianapolis was immediately behind schedule with 7:12 remaining in the second, after Domata Peko forced Ahmad Bradshaw to stretch outside while Marquis Flowers plugged the running lane.

Bengals Colts Bradshaw run GIF

Carlos Dunlap forced Luck out of the pocket on second down, allowing the quarterback to target Bradshaw just off the line of scrimmage. Marquis Flowers and Darqueze Dennard limited the gain to eight yards and forcing a third-and-four with 5:48 remaining in the first. Wallace Gilberry sheds off the block and drills Luck as he's releasing the football, forcing an errant throw and an incomplete pass.

Later in the second quarter, with 3:22 remaining, the Colts have third and four from their own 28-yard line. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins met in the backfield to sack Luck and forcing the Colts to punt.

Colts Bengals sack GIF Atkins Dunlap

The Bengals defense held Indianapolis to 10 points and Cincinnati was presented with several opportunities, not only to make this game competitive, but to win it by the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Bengals defense slowed down, largely because they spent most of the game on the field.

Bengals defense possessions