1:00 PM ET, December 8, 2013
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
CINCINNATI -- A disputed call went the Bengals' way -- not that they absolutely needed it.
Getting Andy Dalton back in form was quite enough.
Dalton regained his passing touch in time to keep the Bengals perfect at home and in control of the AFC North on Sunday. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 42-28 victory over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
More Colts-Bengals coverage
While the Colts backed into an AFC South title on Sunday, they do understand they will have to show vast improvement if they want to be more than one-and-done in the playoffs, writes Mike Wells. Blog
Andy Dalton returned to the form that earned him player of the month honors in October, and it's a good sign for the Bengals, Coley Harvey writes. Blog
The Bengals (9-4) kept their firm grip on first place, two games ahead of Baltimore with three to play.
"We're on a roll," middle linebacker Rey Maualuga said. "At the beginning of the year, we had three goals. We wanted to be undefeated at home, win the AFC North and eventually be world champions.
"We're close to the goals we wanted to get to. We've got to be good from here out."
It had been a while since Dalton was this good.
He was the AFC's offensive player for October, but hadn't put together a consistent game since. He was as good as ever on Sunday, helping the Bengals improve to 6-0 at Paul Brown Stadium on a cold, windy day -- 28 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of 19.
"We know what we're capable of, and we've got some momentum now," said Dalton, who was 24-of-35 for 275 yards without a sack or interception. "But we've got to keep it going."
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs -- one of them on a review that overturned a call -- as the Bengals got ahead 21-0 and held on.
The Colts (8-5) had another slow start in the cold, falling behind 21-0 before Luck threw four touchdown passes to keep them close. They never caught up as Dalton got the better of a head-to-head matchup of up-and-coming quarterbacks from Texas.
Despite the loss, the Colts clinched the AFC South later Sunday when Denver beat Tennessee 51-28.
Indianapolis is in good shape to make the playoffs but has some major concerns. The Colts were drubbed 40-11 in Arizona two games ago and needed Adam Vinatieri's five field goals to beat Tennessee 22-14 last week.
"We've got some things to clean up, but we certainly came down here with the mindset that we wanted to win this football game and certainly win the division that way," coach Chuck Pagano said.
The Bengals are having their best season at home since 1988, when they won all eight regular-season home games and two playoff games on the way to a second Super Bowl appearance and loss to San Francisco.
They're in position to clinch their first AFC North title since 2009 with two home games in the last three weeks.
Dalton was sharp from the outset, completing 6-of-7 for 81 yards on the Bengals' first drive, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Jones. The Colts have been outscored 49-9 in the first quarters of their past six games.
The Bengals got a pivotal touchdown on a reversed call with 1:06 left in the first half.
They went for it on fourth down from the Colts 1-yard line. Green-Ellis took the handoff and appeared to get tripped by nose tackle Josh Chapman, who dived into the backfield and swiped at his feet.
"I hit his foot when he came through," said Chapman, who started celebrating his play.
Green-Ellis said he felt someone trip him. He stumbled ahead, avoided a couple of defenders, landed at the 1-yard line and slid into the end zone. He was initially ruled down, but the Bengals were awarded a touchdown after a review.
The review focused only on whether a defender touched Green-Ellis as he fell near the goal line, not whether Chapman had tripped him in the backfield, referee Jeff Triplette said.
"We looked at the goal line, (those) were the shots that we looked at," Triplette said.
Trailing 21-0, Luck finally rallied the Colts.
Dalton and the Bengals never let the Colts get closer than seven points.
The Bengals moved 2012 Pro Bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth to left guard, and right guard Kevin Zeitler was out of the lineup for the third straight game because of injury. The Colts were missing guards Hugh Thornton and Jeff Linkenbach. ... Colts RB Chris Rainey will get an MRI on an injured ankle. ... The Bengals have scored 49, 41 and 42 points in their past three home games, the first time they've scored at least 40 in three straight at home. ... RB Giovani Bernard had 99 yards on 12 carries, coming up a yard short of the first 100-yard rushing game by a Bengal this season. He also had 49 yards on four catches.
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 08: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the NFL game against...(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.7||6.1|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-2||5-5|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|TD||8:11||Marvin Jones 29 Yard Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 83 yds, 5:22
|TD||1:14||Benjarvus Green-Ellis 1 Yard Run (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yds, 3:54
|TD||10:45||Benjarvus Green-Ellis 1 Yard Run (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 4:19
|TD||10:09||Da'Rick Rogers 69 Yard Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 74 yds, 0:44
|TD||6:30||Lavon Brazill 19 Yard Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 48 yds, 1:02
|TD||3:12||Jermaine Gresham 1 Yard Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 60 yds, 3:15
|TD||13:30||A.J. Green 9 Yard Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 59 yds, 3:25
|TD||9:54||Lavon Brazill 29 Yard Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yds, 3:37
|TD||4:10||Andy Dalton 8 Yard Run (Mike Nugent Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 29 yds, 3:15
|TD||1:24||Da'Rick Rogers 2 Yard Pass From Andrew Luck (Adam Vinatieri Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 72 yds, 2:43
Andrew Luck threw all four touchdowns to LaVon Brazill or Da'Rick Rogers, completing 9-of-13 passes for 160 yards and four touchdowns targeting the duo. Luck hadn't targeted Rogers all season before Sunday, who had 63 yards after the catch on a 69-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.[+]
Andrew Luck Targeting Brazill/Rogers, 2013
Andy Dalton's Total QBR was 89.2 against the Colts. In his previous 4 games combined it was 15.4.
Andy Dalton was fantastic against added pressure Sunday, completing 15-of-17 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns as well as an 8-yard scramble touchdown against at least five pass rushers. Dalton's 30.1 Total QBR against the blitz ranked 28th in the NFL entering Sunday.[+]
Andy Dalton vs 5+ Rushers, 2013
Andrew Luck became the third player in Colts history with 300 passing yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He's the only one to do so in a losing effort.[+]
Andy Dalton is 6-for-7 for 82 yards and a touchdown against at least five pass rushers in the first half. Dalton's 30.1 Total QBR against added pressure ranked 28th among qualified quarterbacks entering Sunday.
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