At least one part of the NFL's record-setting combination was
Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson hooked up for three completions,
Rudi Johnson ran for 45 yards and Chris Henry caught a 14-yard
touchdown pass before the Bengals pulled their starters, leading
the Bengals to a 20-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts' backups
and their first perfect preseason in franchise history.
"It looks like he's healthy," said Manning, a two-time MVP.
"I'm glad to see that he's back; he's come a long way in a short
period of time."
Palmer and Chad Johnson, who once drove to a Monday night game
in Indianapolis so they could study the rapport Manning and
Harrison have, looked crisp.
Johnson caught three passes for 59 yards, although he lost a
first-quarter fumble, and Palmer finished 4-of-6 for 73 yards with
one TD in his second exhibition game back from a devastating knee
injury sustained in January's playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Palmer said he wanted to shake off some lingering rust, and the
Bengals (4-0) gave him nine plays to do it.
That was more than could be said for the Colts.
In front of a stadium that started half-full and dwindled
throughout the game, Indy rested its entire starting offense and
all but one possible starter on defense, cornerback Marlin Jackson.
"We were going to play them and we talked about it as a staff,
and then you wonder what the benefit is of playing them only one or
two series," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "In the final analysis,
we did what we thought was best to get ready for the regular
The Colts' strategy certainly made it easier for Palmer & Co.
On the second series, Palmer hooked up with Chad Johnson on a
31-yard play and Rudi Johnson broke off runs of 14 and 26 yards to
set up Palmer's TD pass to Henry for a 7-0 lead.
"Any time you get on the field and work your stuff against an
opponent that you're not sure exactly what they're going to do,
it's good," Palmer said. "It would be nice to get Dwight Freeney
out there and a couple of their starters. But the way it worked
out, we got our work in."
The biggest concern for Indy was Adam Vinatieri's injury update.
Team officials said Vinatieri had a sprained ligament and a small
bone chip in his nonkicking foot and remained hopeful Vinatieri
would return for the season-opener Sept. 10.
"We've targeted Adam for the season opener and we plan on him
being ready," Dungy said.
Otherwise, it was a dreadful night for the Colts.
In the first quarter alone, the Colts drew three false start
penalties, were called offsides once and managed only one first
down. Their only scoring threat ended when backup quarterback Shaun
King badly underthrew Marc Boerigter in the end zone and Tory James
picked it off for a touchback.
It got worse.
Twice in the second quarter, King couldn't beat the play clock
and fans mockingly cheered when the Colts finally picked up their
second first down of the game with 10:18 to go in the half. Backup
kicker Shane Andrus ended the half with a 51-yard field goal he
shanked wide right.
Meanwhile, the Bengals backups were still in sync. Running back
Quincy Wilson was the workhorse on Cincinnati's 13-play, 53-yard TD
drive and capped it with 1-yard TD run to give the Bengals a 14-0
lead in the second quarter. He finished with 19 carries for 128
That was all Cincinnati needed against the Colts unusually
"Guys went out and did what they needed to do," Bengals coach
Marvin Lewis said. "It was good work for us and now we move on to
King was 16-of-24 for 175 yards with one interception. He was
also the Colts top rusher with 17 yards on three carries. The Colts
finished with 12 carries for 16 yards rushing and only 221 total
Bengals kicker Shayne Graham connected on two field goals -- 22
and 23 yards -- in the second half, and Andrus made a 22-yard field
goal with 1:24 left in the third quarter for the Colts.
Bengals receiver Tab Perry left the game in the first
half with a bruised chest and did not return. ... The Colts barely
avoided being shutout by the Bengals two years in a row. They've
lost the last two preseason finales to Cincinnati by a combined
score of 58-3. ... Cincinnati has scored 131 points in the
preseason, likely to be the most in the NFL. ... Boerigter left
with a concussion midway through the fourth quarter and did not
return. ... Backup quarterback Josh Betts got his first action of
the preseason for Indy and was 4-of-7 for 46 yards with one