INDIANAPOLIS - Nobody ever beats the Colts in November or at home. But if you had told the Bengals on Sunday morning they wouldn’t allow Colts quarterback Peyton Manning a touchdown pass or sacks to one of their two Pro Bowl defensive ends until the final 25 seconds, they would have taken their chances before that 23-17 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We communicated; we got the calls to everybody,” said cornerback
With Manning playing without three of his top five receivers, the Bengals were able to focus taking away wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, the NFL leader in catches. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s plan worked perfectly. The Bengals didn’t allow Manning big plays. Wayne had just three catches and his longest was 18 yards. Garcon had five and his longest was 14.
"We blitzed a few times; playing a little cat-and-mouse there,” Joseph said. “You can’t show your hand every time.”
Zimmer changed up looks more than he blitzed. He showed Manning a lot of three-man fronts in the red zone, where the Colts had to settle for two field goals in three trips, reversing their 65.5 touchdown success rate. Zimmer also tried to disguise what the Bengals were doing until the last possible instant and matched substitutions whenever he could.
Which meant he got a mega game out of safety
“Pretty much every time they substituted,” said Murray of his action on passing downs. “Peyton is real good at catching defenses off guard in substitutions. Getting them to the line and calling the play. Anytime they substituted, that’s when we would do our substituting. I was prepared to play (vs.) two tight ends or three receivers because they do the same thing. They just split out a tight end.”
The Bengals basically did what the Eagles did last week when they beat the Colts and let tight end Jacob Tamme get his catches. He had seven balls for 73 yards Sunday, but nothing longer than 20 with Manning only completing 20 of his 36 passes for 185 yards. Murray had the second-most tackles on the team with eight behind only middle linebacker
“(The plan was) being around their receivers when they were getting out of the break so that we can make those catches real tough for them,” Murray said. “We didn’t have (to blitz). Peyton is a real smart quarterback, so we tried to fake him a lot. As far as pressures, we tried to show things and switch it up and sometimes really bring it.”
Zimmer mixed up his lineup a little bit. He started
The Bengals also got decent pressure on Manning and sacked him twice, a big number for a guy sacked 10 times all year. The Bengals got a big game out of rookie end
Murray not only played a batch of snaps on defense, he also worked on the kick and punt teams and had two more tackles. Plus, he had a block on the Bengals’ longest play of the day, a 42-yard run by
It’s the second time the fake has worked this year and it led to a touchdown. Punter
“He played his (bleep) off,” Joseph said of Murray. “He was Chris Crocker, he was Morgan Trent, he was
PASS PRO: The Bengals changed up their pass protection to defend feared sackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and helped their tackles with chip blocks from their tight ends and backs. The only time left tackles
“Those guys pin your ears back; they’re looking for blood,” Whitworth said of the last drive. “You don’t have to be real good to do that. As good as they are, they’re going to have the advantage in that situation.”
Whitworth said the Bengals tried to keep the Colts off balance with different looks in their passing packages and Palmer said the offensive line can’t be criticized for its work Sunday.
“I don't think I got hit all night until the end of the game; the pass protection was amazing,” Palmer said. “When you play against those guys, it was amazing. We did something that no other teams have done, which is come into their place and block their two big D-ends. The last two plays of the game, they're extremely difficult on our tackles. They're one-on-one and those guys are just teeing off. But all game long, I didn't get touched.”
"All day it was max protection, 7-on-3 or 7-on-4 protection,” he said, “and we said if they are going to max protect we're going to create some turnovers because they have less receivers going out in coverage and we're going to have a chance to make a play on some of the balls. So we knew there would be some opportunities today and we took advantage of them."
The Bengals ended up rotating
But the Bengals’ inability to run the ball took everyone by surprise. It wasn’t a season-low in rushing, but 42 of the 72 yards came on a fake punt and running back
“They outplayed us in some areas. They were out to stop the run, and they got ahead of us. They were more tenacious,” Benson said.
Benson has another critical fumble, his third of the season, and it came at the Bengals 25 one snap after Palmer threw a pick-six to Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden.
"The second guy in hit my arm,” Benson said. “It’s been a tough season.”