Bengals can’t escape injury in preseason finale to Colts

The Cincinnati Bengals did their best to protect their top players from injury by resting starters and key backups in the preseason finale.

They couldn’t keep rookie running back Rodney Anderson from another injury scare, though, and that was just one disappointing moment in the Bengals’ 13-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Anderson, a sixth-round draft pick, went down with a right knee injury late in the first quarter and did not return, finishing with five carries for two yards and two catches for seven yards. He had just made his preseason debut last week after completing his recovery from ACL surgery on that same knee, which he injured in Oklahoma’s second game last fall to end his junior season.

Cincinnati (1-3) managed a preseason-best 84 yards rushing on 23 carries Thursday, but most of the offense went through third-string quarterback Jake Dolegala, an undrafted rookie out of Central Connecticut State who seems to have pushed Jeff Driskel even further down the list after Ryan Finley won the opportunity to back up Andy Dalton this season.

Dolegala played the entire game and completed 26 of 41 passes for 253 yards. He had the Bengals in the red zone four times but they managed just a pair of field goals, starting with a Tristan Vizcaino 22-yarder to take a 3-0 lead with 10:59 left in the second quarter.

Indianapolis (1-3) responded with a scoring drive led by second-string quarterback Chad Kelly (who is expected to back up Jacoby Brissett after a two-game suspension) and went ahead 7-3 with 5:50 left in the half.

Vizcaino nearly cut the deficit the next drive but his 55-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright, and he missed another one later from 37 yards out. Cole Hedlund added a pair of field goals in the third quarter to extend Indy’s lead to 13-3, including one shortly after Carroll Phillips sack-stripped Dolegala and recovered the fumble.

The Bengals had a touchdown nullified early in the third quarter when Trayvon Henderson made an illegal block above the waist during Darius Phillips’ 73-yard punt return. Cincinnati ended up going three-and-out on the ensuing drive but got the ball back when the Colts muffed the punt and long snapper Dan Godsil recovered.

Dolegala led Cincinnati to the red zone twice in the fourth quarter but was sacked on third down the first time and needed Vizcaino to put the points on the board. The second trip, the Bengals had another touchdown taken away by an offensive pass interference penalty the officials saw when Quinton Flowers’ touchdown catch was reviewed. Taylor decided to go for it on fourth down but his offense couldn’t convert and that was the game.

The Bengals open the season Sept. 8 at Seattle.

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