The Cincinnati Bengals continue to be a sleeper playoff contender, and the Indianapolis Colts continue to be a strong contender for the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bengals scratched and clawed their way to a 27-17 victory over the Colts on Sunday, running their record to 4-2 and showing that they’re going to be playing meaningful games down the stretch in a season that most people thought would be a rebuilding years.
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton is having a very good year for the Bengals — he’s not putting up spectacular numbers like fellow rookie Cam Newton, but he’s helping the Bengals win games by being an efficient passer and avoiding mistakes. Today he went 25 of 32 for 264 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson had a big day, and rookie receiver A.J. Green scored the game’s first touchdown.
The Colts were still in it late in the fourth quarter, but a Pierre Garcon fumble was picked up by Carlos Dunlap and returned for a touchdown with 2:22 to play to seal the win. The Colts are now 0-6, and for fans in Indianapolis the most interesting question the rest of the season is whether Andrew Luck will be Peyton Manning’s successor.
As for the Bengals, their receivers are playing great, their offensive line is giving Dalton time to pass, Cedric Benson has been a solid runner, and their defense is keeping them in every game. Add it all up, and you have to wonder if Carson Palmer is regretting his retirement. The Bengals are playing good football.