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10/17/2011 5:36 AM EDT
Bengals hold on for 27-17 win to drop Colts to 0-6
CINCINNATI 27, INDIANAPOLIS 17

By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Coming off a four-win season and an overhaul
that left them extremely young on offense, the Cincinnati
Bengals realized nobody expected much out of them.

Check out the record.

The NFL's top-ranked defense held on for a 27-17 win Sunday that
sent the Bengals (4-2) into their bye week with as many
victories as they had all last season and a growing feeling that
they could become one of the league's biggest surprises.

"I feel we can be as good as we want to be," said defensive end
Carlos Dunlap, whose 35-yard fumble return for a touchdown
clinched it. "We've got the guys in place to go as far as we
want to go."

Nobody expected the Colts to be in their spot, either.

Indianapolis opened the season with Super Bowl aspirations,
along with questions about Peyton Manning's neck. Manning has
been forced to watch from the sideline as the winless Colts fall
apart - they are 0-6 for only the fifth time in franchise
history.

"We're close," linebacker Pat Angerer said. "We're not a bad
team. We've got great players. We're not getting blown out. It's
just a little thing here or there."

And big problems in the second half.

Two weeks earlier, Tampa Bay scored a pair of fourth-quarter
touchdowns to rally for a 24-17 win over the Colts. Then, Kansas
City scored three straight touchdowns to pull out a 28-24 win.
This time, Indianapolis blew chances to catch up.

Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton put together an impressive
performance against the Colts' hard-charging defense. He was 25
of 32 for 264 yards and one touchdown without a sack, completing
13 straight throws over one stretch. His poise on the run helped
the Bengals pull ahead 20-7 in the second half.

Curtis Painter rallied Indianapolis, getting the Colts in range
for Adam Vinatieri's 52-yard field goal try to tie it with 5:38
left. Cornerback Nate Clements came around the end of the line
and swatted it away.

After the Bengals missed a field goal attempt, the Colts had one
more chance. Painter completed a pass to Pierre Garcon, who was
stripped of the ball as he tried to get a few extra yards while
being tackled. The ball flew directly to Dunlap, who outran the
Colts' offensive linemen for the clinching score.

The fumble ruling was upheld on review.

"I thought I was down," Garcon said. "Having it come down to
that play, it's tough. It's the same story - we've got to finish
games off. We're close, but things happen."

Bad things, that is.

"Each game, we're in it in the fourth quarter and something
happens," defensive back Jerraud Powers said. "Something
dramatic happens."

By contrast, things are going the Bengals' way.

They ended a seven-game losing streak against the Colts -
Manning is 7-0 against them - and headed into their bye week
with their first three-game winning streak since 2009. They're
not drawing much of a crowd - only 52,068 tickets were sold for
Sunday's game on a sunny, warm afternoon, leaving more than
13,000 empty seats at Paul Brown Stadium.

Still, it was by far the biggest home crowd of the season.

"Coming into the season, we weren't getting much credit," Dalton
said. "As a team, we have the attitude that we're going to go
out and prove everyone wrong. We've played well, and we've been
in every game we've played."

Notes: The Colts' other comparable starts: 1997 (0-10), 1991
(0-9), 1986 (0-13) and 1982 (0-6). The Colts were without
injured RB Joseph Addai and LT Anthony Castonzo, forcing them to
scramble their offensive line. ... Painter was 23 of 34 for 188
yards with his first interception in 115 attempts. ... LB A.J.
Edds left the game in the third quarter and was evaluated for a
possible concussion. ... Bengals K Mike Nugent missed from 43
yards into a swirling wind, snapping his streak of 13 straight
field goals to start the season.

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