8-30-01, 8:50 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
If it wasn't for eight seconds in the first quarter, the Bengals would have blown the Colts back to Indianapolis in the pre-season finale at Paul Brown Stadium.
In his first appearance since winning the quarterbacks derby, Jon Kitna led the Bengals to touchdowns on the first two possessions and strong safety Chris Carter stopped the Colts on his goal line with an interception as the Bengals broke to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
But Kitna threw an interception on the right sideline on a third-down pass intended for rookie wide receiver Chad Johnson at the Bengals 17 and the turnover led to 17 straight points as the Colts took a 17-14 lead with 4:30 left in the first half.
To make matters worse for a struggling run defense, tackle Tony Williams left the game for X-Rays on his sprained shoulder.
On their first play after the interception, the Colts sent running back Dominic Rhodes around left end for a touchdown to make it 14-7 with 4:37 left in the first quarter.
But Bengals Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon looked in October form.
As in Oct. 22, 2000, when he broke Walter Payton's single-game rushing record.
Dillon took the second snap of the game, bolted between center Rich Braham and right guard Mike Goff, and went 87 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bengals a 7-0 lead over the Colts.
Dillon broke linebacker Marcus Washington's tackle, cut back against rookie free safety Idrees Bashir, and outran free safety Cory Bird
for about the last 60 yards.
Dillon, who also had a five-yard carry, was done for the night and left the rest of the first quarter for Brandon Bennett and Curtis Keaton.
Bennett scored the second touchdown on an eight-yard run behind fullback Lorenzo Neal's blocks on both safeties. Kitna looked impressive in hitting four of five passes for 47 yards, including a 25-yarder to wide receiver Peter Warrick.
That play came off play-action as Bennett and Keaton pounded for 33 yards in a running game that rolled up 132 yards in the first quarter.
One of the reasons Kitna got the nod over Scott Mitchell was because of his mobility. He flashed it on a first-down play from Bengals 44, when he juked left and right to avoid defensive end Chuck Nwokorie and hit tight end Marco Battaglia over the middle for 11 yards.
Indianapolis made the short trip to Paul Brown Stadium and they might as well have not bussed in the Colts' Big Three.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and wide receiver Marvin Harrison were expected not to take a snap against the Bengals. Not only that, the Colts decided not to start Chad Bratzke at defensive end, Jeff Burris at left cornerback, and Chad Cota at free safety.
The Bengals sent out
the bulk of their starters, who figured to play for the first half before Kitna turns it over Mitchell.
Replacement officials worked the game, headed by a crew that had Jim Daopoulos as the umpire. Daopoulos, now a supervisor, worked the Super Bowl as an umpire in Atlanta in January of 1999.