Bengals blow 21-point lead, lose to Colts

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Bengals burst out to a big lead, then didn’t seem to know how to handle it.

After taking a three-touchdown advantage early in the second quarter, the Bengals collapsed, and the Indianapolis Colts rallied for a 31-27 win Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Colts (4-2) outscored the Bengals 31-6 over the final 44 minutes and 56 seconds, and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was intercepted with 39 seconds left as Cincinnati (1-4-1) attempted a last-drive comeback. Randy Bullock hit the upright on a 48-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter with a one-point deficit but Indianapolis added a 40-yarder of its own before Cincinnati took over for the final possession.

Cincinnati’s defense set the tone early with a fumble recovery by newcomer Xavier Williams on the second play from scrimmage and two straight three-and-outs, and the offense carried the momentum. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow guided the Bengals down field for three straight scores, giving them a 21-0 lead four seconds into the second quarter.

Each of the three touchdowns came on the ground, matching in one half the Bengals' rushing touchdown total for the first five games. Burrow had one of them, while Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon also accounted for scores. Mixon bowled in from seven yards out on the third score, pushing a pile into the end zone after Burrow had connected with Tee Higgins on a 67-yard bomb the previous play.

The Colts found some life after that, though, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives to make it a three-point game going into halftime with Randy Bullock also adding a 47-yard field goal for the Bengals, ensuring they remained ahead at the break. Trey Burton accounted for the Colts' first two scores, including on a 1-yard run and a 10-yard reception from Phillip Rivers.

Cincinnati had to punt on its final drive of the half, after Burrow was almost intercepted and Tyler Boyd fumbled with Trey Hopkins recovering it. Indianapolis drove down for one more score to carry the momentum into halftime, and the Bengals went three-and-out their first possession.

Bullock made a 55-yarder in the third quarter to extend the Bengals' lead to 27-21 but Indianapolis took its first lead on a Jack Doyle touchdown reception five seconds into the fourth quarter, and Rodrigo Blankenship’s 40-yard field goal with 4:03 left sealed it.

Rivers completed 29 of 44 passes for 371 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, picked off by Jessie Bates, despite Rivers' slow start. Marcus Johnson had 108 yards on five catches, including a 55-yard reception to set up the second touchdown.

Burrow completed 25 of 39 passes for 313 yards, a week after finishing with just 183 yards passing in a 27-3 loss to Baltimore. Mixon, who exited in the second quarter with a foot injury and briefly attempted to come back, carried the ball 18 times for 54 yards. Higgins had six catches for 125 yards to lead the receivers, while Green had a breakout game final with a season-high 96 yards on eight catches, including three big plays on third down.

The Bengals seek to bounce back from a second straight loss next week against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium.

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