The Colts longest season in quite a long time continued on Sunday, as the team took on the young Bengals in Cincinnati, and walked away with a disheartening 27-17 setback.
They are now 0-6 on the season, the fifth time in franchise history they have started the season losing their first six games.
Indy did have a shot late, as theys trailed 20-17 when they took over at their own 33-yard line with 2:36 remaining after a missed field goal by the Bengals.
On the first play, quarterback Curtis Painter completed a pass to Pierre Garcon, who fumbled. Bengals LB Carlos Dunlap recovered and ran 35 yards for a touchdown to put the game away.
It killed the chances of a Colts comeback, as they trailed 20-7 in the third quarter, only to come back and then give it away with the late fumble and defensive score.
Painter completed 23-of-34 passes for 188 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Colts, and Pierre Garcon caught eight passes for 52 yards, but his fourth-quarter fumble was a killer.
Already missing QB Peyton Manning, the Colts also were without injured running back Joseph Addai and left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Indianapolis had to shuffle its line, moving Jeff Linkenbach from right to left tackle. Guard Ryan Diam, hobbled by an ankle injury, moved from guard to right tackle.
Not a good way to go against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
Still, the Colts had a chance at the end.
Painter’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Clark cut it to 20-17 with 9:33 left. He would get them in range for the tying field goal, only to have Clements—a free agent acquisition who replaced Johnathan Joseph—slap it away. Dunlap’s fumble return with 2:22 to go ended Indy’s chances.
Painter was 23 of 34 for 188 yards with his first interception in 115 attempts.
Andy Dalton threw for 264 yards and a touchdown for Cincy, while running back Cedric Benson ran for 57 yards and a touchdown. Rookie A.J. Green caught five passes for 51 yards and a score for the Bengals (4-2), who had dropped seven straight to the Colts.
Things in 2011 won’t get easier, as next week the Colts head to New Orleans to play the Saints on Sunday night football in a game that could be very ugly.