This had to be the most frustrating one of all the Bengals' 12 one-touchdown games without a win over the last two years as Colts quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 371 yards in erasing the Bengals' 21-0 lead and turned it into a 31-27 Indy win. It marked the fourth time this season the 1-4-1 Bengals went into the fourth quarter with a lead.
Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who had 313 yards himself, tried to steal one of Rivers' 28 fourth-quarter comebacks with his first. Down, 31-27, he got the ball back at his own 26 with 4:03 left and drove to midfield with passes to wide receivers A.J. Green and Tee Higgins and on fourth-and-nine the real A.J. Green stood up as Burrow stood up against the blitz and caught a ball at the sticks with 1:40 left for Green's season-high eight catches for 96 yards.
But with 39 seconds left on third-and-five, Burrow tried to hit wide receiver Tyler Boyd down the seam at about the 15 and it looked like he never saw rookie safety Julian Blackmon undercut the route for the interception.
The Colts took the lead for the first time all day on the first snap of the fourth quarter when Rivers, 26 of 44, just continued to be on an unconscious. The go-ahead score came when tight end Jack Doyle beat rookie linebacker Logan Wilson and Rivers dropped it right over both of them in the end zone to make it 28-27. At that point, Rivers had missed only 10 of his 35 passes for a staggering 332 yards.
And then the Bengals imploded. Mixon lost five yards on a pitch on first down. Then they got into a third-and-12 when right guard Alex Redmond false started. The O-line had done a great job on the monstrous DeForest Buckner until that point, when he split Redmond and center Trey Hopkins for the Colts' second sack of the day.
Then Kevin Huber uncorked a 28-yard punt to give the Colts great field position. But free safety Jessie Bates III, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native, came back home to give the Bengals life when he ranged from the middle of the field to make a leaping interception at the Colts 13.
And Burrow kept chucking. He got Higgins his first 100-yard game (six catches on 125 yards) on a 20-yard flea flicker and yet another third- down catch by Green, looking very much like himself when he got his feet down on the sideline to give him a season-high 75 yards.
But on third-and-one they brought in running back Samaje Perine as a fullback and on his first carry of the year he got stoned, forcing a field goal. But Bullock saw his streak of 12 straight field goals snapped when his 48-yarder hit the right upright with 8:02 left.
Then, the defense couldn't give them the stand they needed, allowing Rivers to drain the clock by converting two third-and-longs. They left wide receiver T.Y. Hilton wide open on one and strong safety Vonn Bell got caught inside trying to cover tight end Trey Burton for the other.
But Bell came back on the next third down to make a play on Burton, forcing a 40-yard field goal by Rodrigo Blankenship that gave the Colts a 31-27 lead with 4:03 left.