Andy Dalton threw three touchdowns and ran in another in a game that showed that the Bengals might just have what it takes to progress in the playoffs.
Photo Credit: Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports
I have to start by saying that this game really was a turn of events for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offense, as it turns out, are able to do what the defense have been doing all season, and bail out the other half when things aren't going so well. And that's exactly what they did in week 14.
In a game that I fully expected to be extremely defensive heavy, the Bengals successfully dispensed the Indianapolis Colts in a comfortable two score 42-28 win. This however, was not an overly defensive game, similar to the fashion that they dispensed the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago, but in fact all six touchdowns came as a result of five hard fought offensive drives and one less hard fought thirty yard drive that came off an excellent return from Brandon Tate.
The defense came out guns blazing in the first half, forcing quarterback Andrew Luck and his offense to give the ball back to the Bengals in each of their five first half drives. In fact, the Bengals managed to hold Luck to just 74 passing yards in the first half.
The offense were quick to get off the mark, Andy Dalton throwing for a 29 yard touchdown to Marvin Jones on their first drive. They were unable to get much going again until the end of the second quarter however, when the offense marched the ball up the field after Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 44-yard field goal and a fourth down turnover on the 1 yard line was reversed and BenJarvus Green-Ellis was awarded his first touchdown of the game.
The second half was where things changed for these two teams.
Both the Bengals and the Colts offenses were firing on all cylinders after they came out of the tunnel for the third quarter and neither defense could do a thing about it.
The Colts managed to gain 252 yards in the air in the second half, something that the Bengals have not done yet this season, as well as four touchdowns while not managing a single turnover or sack, all extremely rare stats for the Bengals.
The Bengals defense were unable to come up with an answer to the Colts. With 9:57 on the clock, wide receiver Da'Rick Rodgers managed to shed two tackles to run in a 69 yard touchdown. Just under four minutes later, LaVon Brazill managed to break six tackles on his way to a 19 yard touchdown, completely flustering the defense and injuring two defensive backs in the dash for the end zone.
In a rare off day for the Bengals defense, the Bengals offense were able to show for the first time since October, why they're a play off caliber offense and were able to bail out the defense, matching the Colts touchdown for touchdown in the second half and making sure they held onto their two score first half lead.
The big question is, have the offense finally found their groove? It's obviously too soon to tell with an up and down quarterback like Dalton, but it looks good.
With great use of his comfort zone passing, making a lot of plays with quick slants across the middle and not making many throws over 20 yards and running the ball 0.8 times for every pass, they were able to evenly balance the offense and put up 433 total offensive yards in the making. Going forward, this looks like it could be the perfect way to get the points on the board and make this the potent offense we all expected of them at the beginning of the season.
Simon Greene- Cincinnati Bengals Team Journalist for The Spot. Be sure to Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88