Coach Tony Dungy made sure the Bengals wouldn't touch him again.
The winless Colts rested their entire starting offense and all
but two players on defense Friday night, playing it safe instead of
playing for real. The Bengals took advantage of the mismatch,
rolling to a 38-0 victory in the final preseason game.
Carson Palmer led the Bengals (2-2) to touchdowns on their first
two drives, going 6-of-7 for 107 yards before calling it a night.
Cincinnati scored on its first three possessions, piling up a
256-16 advantage in yards.
How easy was it? The Bengals had 346 yards at halftime, setting
up their most lopsided preseason win since a 45-0 drubbing of Tampa
Bay in 1977.
"For our team in that situation, you just want to do what
you're supposed to do, and we accomplished that," coach Marvin
Lewis said. "But it means zero."
The Colts (0-5) finished their first winless preseason since
1990, but Dungy didn't mind. When Indianapolis introduced its
offense before the game, not one starter ran out from the tunnel.
Only two defensive starters took the field -- middle linebacker Gary
Brackett and cornerback Nick Harper -- for the opening series.
"It's been a strange preseason with the five games," said
Manning, who sat out a game for only the second time in his career.
"It was kind of their (coaches') decision to give some guys some
rest. Obviously it was not a good result."
The backups had a tough time against a Bengals offense that was
at full strength and eager to flex some muscle. Cincinnati's first
team had failed to get into the end zone in two preseason games,
prompting Lewis to turn up the intensity.
The stars were aligned -- sitting all in a row on the Colts'
bench -- for the Bengals' breakout night in front of a big crowd.
Cincinnati sold 59,781 tickets, the most ever for one of its
"We just wanted to come out and be crisp," Palmer said. "We
wanted to get our work in, get in and get out and keep everybody
Rudi Johnson's 3-yard touchdown run completed a 75-yard drive
that opened the game. The Bengals then went 91 yards, with T.J.
Houshmandzadeh catching a 14-yard pass from Palmer for the score.
When Jeremi Johnson went into the end zone standing up for a 5-yard
score, the fans gave a halfhearted ovation.
Asked what he got out of the game, receiver Chad Johnson said,
"Really, nothing. You're just putting together as much as you can.
You work on whatever you're working on personally, and you just
want to get out healthy."
The talent mismatch made it tough for the Bengals to gauge
themselves. They'll open the season next Sunday in Cleveland hoping
they've worked out the kinks, but not knowing for sure.
By contrast, Dungy knows what he's got and wasn't about to
jeopardize any of it.
"The best thing is, the preseason's over," Dungy said.
The Colts opened in Tokyo against Atlanta, absorbed some
injuries and returned jet-lagged. They finally got in sync last
week against Denver, where Manning bruised his left shoulder in the
third quarter. Manning looked fine in practice and would have
played Friday if the game mattered.
It was only the second time in his career that he missed a game.
Manning also sat out a preseason game against the Bengals in 2001
because of a sprained knee.
A few of the Colts' backups got banged up on Friday, including
first-round draft pick Marlin Jackson. The cornerback didn't start,
but got into the game and bruised his shoulder.
The loss concluded a chaotic week for Indianapolis, which opens
the season in Baltimore. Linebacker Kendyll Pope got a season-long
suspension on Wednesday for violating the league's substance abuse
policy, and defensive tackle Corey Simon signed on Thursday.
Simon, who missed the entire preseason in a contract dispute
with Philadelphia, didn't accompany the team to Cincinnati.
Colts backups OT Makoa Freitas (foot), LB Gilbert Gardner
(ankle) and WR Brad Pyatt (shoulder) also were hurt. ... Bengals
backup WR Kevin Walter suffered a mild concussion. ... It was the
Colts' most lopsided preseason loss since a 45-3 defeat in Seattle
in 1997. The last time they were shut out in the preseason was
1992, a 20-0 loss to the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium. ... Palmer
was 35-of-67 in preseason for 432 yards with three touchdowns and
two interceptions. His passer rating was 75.
The struggling Dallas Cowboys intend to start Matt Cassel at quarterback when they return from their bye week, a source told ESPN.
The NFL has blamed an error by a clock operator, and the failure to correct it by on-field officials, for an unusual run-off of 18 seconds near the end of Monday's Steelers-Chargers game.
Doctors treating Giants tight end Daniel Fells for MRSA are more optimistic than they were a few days ago that Fells won't lose his foot, sources close to the situation said.
A Texas trooper faces a disciplinary review for having his photo taken with Cowboys running back Christine Michael during a traffic stop.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he expects Julio Jones to be ready to face the Saints on Thursday night despite his top receiver battling right hamstring tightness along with a toe injury.
DeAngelo Williams was told by NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent that he couldn't wear pink accessories because there are no exceptions to the uniform policy.