NFL Wild Card Weekend: Cincinnati Bengals v Indianapolis Colts – live!

Cincinnati Bengals 7-13 Indianapolis Colts 5:07, 2nd quarter

The Bengals have struggled to move the ball since scoring, and this drive is no exception, Dalton picking up one first down on a swing pass to Bernard, but his team going no further. Huber lands a fine punt out of bounds at the Indianapolis nine-yard line.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-13 Indianapolis Colts 8:02, 2nd quarter

Well, apparently it’s just two drops so far from Hilton today. But that’s still more than he had at home in the entire regular season.

T.Y. Hilton had 1 drop at home during the regular season. He has 2 today. (via @ESPNStatsInfo)

Another dropped pass from Hilton - who has had a few already tonight - means the Colts have to settle for another Adam Vinatieri field goal.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-10 Indianapolis Colts 9:22, 2nd quarter

A token nod to the running game, Herron takes the ball over left guard for a couple of yards on first down, and then Luck launches a 45-yard bomb into the arms of Hakeem Nicks.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-10 Indianapolis Colts 10:51, 2nd quarter

A quick three-and-out for Cincy, although there was room in there for another Rex Burkhead reception - his third of the game already. Nice return from Cribbs takes the ball up to the Colts’ 36.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-10 Indianapolis Colts 12:41, 2nd quarter

That was the 52nd playoff field goal of Vinatieri’s career. Nobody else has more than 39.

Twice on this drive, the Colts have attempted to use a hard count to draw the Bengals offside on third down. Twice, they have wound up with a false start penalty instead.

The first time they got away with it, Luck hooking up with Hilton for a first down regardless. But this time Dre Kirkpatrick tips away a pass intended for Reggie Wayne in the end zone. The Colts settle for a 38-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal instead.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-7 Indianapolis Colts 14:08, 2nd quarter

Inevitably, Luck responds to my call for more running plays by completing his next two passes to Hilton for a combined 47 yards. Colts into the red zone.

The quarter ends with Indianapolis facing third-and-six at their own 38-yard line. It’s been a stuttering start from Luck, who has completed just six of 13 passes so far, but he’s been let down by his receivers on a number of plays, too.

Most troubling, for me, is the fact that he’s currently on course to throw the ball more than 50 times in the game. Indianapolis ran the ball extremely effectively on their first drive, so why not stick with it? This drive might already be over if Luck himself had not scrambled for an eighteen-yard gain on third-and-three.

Cincinnati Bengals 7-7 Indianapolis Colts 1:28, 1st quarter

Hill got the score, but Rex Burkhead is the star of the show for Cincy so far.

Rex Burkhead has more yardage in the 1st quarter today (53) than he's had in any game of his 9-game @nfl career.

Rex rankings: 1. T- 2. Harrison 3. Ryan 4. Banner 5. Burkhead 50. Grossman

Looks like we’ve got a game, folks. Hill strolls into the end zone from one yard out at the end of a drive in which the Colts defense offered minimal resistance. Four plays of 10 yards or more tells its own story.

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 2:23, 1st quarter

AJ who? Rex Burkhead might be listed as a running back on the depth chart, but he is doing a pretty passable impression of a wide receiver in this first quarter, taking a short pass from Dalton and turning it into a 26-yard gain. The Bengals are down to the five...

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 4:22, 1st quarter

Has to be said, Dalton’s looking pretty sharp so far. he had a shocking game when these teams met in week seven, completing just 18 of 38 attempts for an average of 3.3 yards per attempt in a 27-0 defeat, but a pair of 10-yard darts to Mohamed Sanu have the Bengals quickly up near midfield again.

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 6:04, 1st quarter

Weird. You would have thought that the Colts, after enjoying quite so much success with Herron on the last drive, might continue to run the ball down Cincinnati’s throats. Instead, we get three passes from Luck, none of them aimed at a running back. TY Hilton fails to reel in the last of them by the sideline, and the Colts go three-and-out. But a fantastic punt by Pat McAfee means the Bengals will take over all the way back on their own 25.

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 6:50, 1st quarter

The Bengals run out of steam just shy of field goal range, Kevin Huber punting away from the Colts’ 39-yard line. The ball is downed at the eight. Meanwhile, here’s some correspondence from Twitter.

@Paolo_Bandini @guardian_sport Andrew > Andy. Colts by double figures, maybe heralding the end of the Lewis regime in Cincy

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 9:22, 1st quarter

Anything you can do, we can do ... about the same? The Bengals meet fire with fire, riding their running game as they move swiftly into Indianapolis territory. Rather than Hill or Bernard, it was the somewhat unlikely figure of Rex Burkhead who got things going with a 23-yard carry on Cincy’s first play.

Cincinnati Bengals 0-7 Indianapolis Colts 11:05, 1st quarter

Insert your own Trent Richardson gag here.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Dan Herron show. The running back barrels into the end zone on a two-yard run at the end of a drive that was All About Him. Three carries for 32 yards, two receptions for 26. Not bad for an opening series.

Cincinnati Bengals 0-0 Indianapolis Colts 13:38, 1st quarter

They average more than 28 points per game, and yet the Colts were the only team in the NFL without an opening drive touchdown in the regular season. Will they turn that stat around now in the playoffs? They’re off to a good start, a couple of quick passes from Luck to running back Dan Herron taking them swiftly across midfield.

Away we go! Colts get the ball first, Josh Cribbs returning the opening kickoff out of his end zone to the 29.

Right then, kickoff imminent. Who ya got? And what say you to Brown’s claims of parity between Luck and Dalton? Let me know on email at or on Twitter @Paolo_Bandini

As if Dalton did not have a big enough task removing that monkey from his back, injuries have also conspired against him. The Bengals arrive in Indianapolis without their best wide receiver, AJ Green, and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Between them, the pair combined for more than 1,500 receiving yards this season.

Without them, Cincy will be forced to rely more heavily than ever on their tandem of tailbacks, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The former player has been extraordinary in his, perhaps benefitting from the lighter workload that he enjoyed at the start of the season. Fresher than most at this time of year, he was the league’s leading rusher over the final month of the regular season. But it may take more than just an effective day running the football to keep up with a Colts offense averaging more than 400 yards per game.

Do not listen to Troy Brown.

The former Patriots wide receiver made a bold claim this week, arguing that Andy Dalton is just as good a quarterback as Andrew Luck. He asserted that the Colts quarterback was good only against “bad football teams”. He claimed that the stats, too, bore him out.

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