News & Analysis

NFL Week 6 PFF ReFocused: Indianapolis Colts 31, Cincinnati Bengals 27

Oct 18, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws the ball for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals got out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, but the Indianapolis Colts battled back to outscore them 24-3 the rest of the way and secure a 31-27 victory. Indianapolis moves to 4-2 to remain in the thick of the AFC South race, while the Bengals fall to 1-4-1 as their rebuilding effort continues.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

The Cincinnati offense was cruising in the early going, as quarterback Joe Burrow spread the ball around to his strong trio of wide receivers en route to a gaudy 0.62 EPA per play figure on passing plays in the first half. This was a great example of what the Bengals' offense was supposed to be with Tyler Boyd working the middle of the field, rookie Tee Higgins creating big plays and A.J. Green taking to more of a possession role and moving the chains with every reception. 

However, the Colts’ defense settled down, shut down the running game and tightened up the passing lanes. And Burrow made multiple poor decisions over the middle of the field — including one he got away with and an interception rookie safety Julian Blackmon that ended the game.

The Colts featured an efficient pass game of their own, as quarterback Philip Rivers bounced back from last week’s 36.7 overall grade, the lowest he’s posted since Week 3 of 2017. Rivers entered the game with just the No. 16 PFF grade on 10-plus yard throws, but that’s where he excelled in this one, finishing 9-of-13 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. It was a healthy mix of short and intermediate passing that helped Indianapolis creep back into the game and, ultimately, the win column. 

On the bright side for the Bengals, the offensive line looked much better all around, providing push in the run game and playing a clean game in pass protection. The Colts pressured Burrow on only nine of his 42 dropbacks, with interior defensive lineman DeForest Buckner doing most of the damage. 

The Indianapolis defense has lost some of its early-season luster the past two weeks, but it made big plays down the stretch to come away with the win.

Oct 18, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) throws the ball against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Watch

For Joe Burrow, a solid game turned sour. The Bengals were unable to move the ball efficiently after jumping out to the big lead. He finished an impressive 8-for-15 for 175 yards on 10-plus yard throws, but it’s the final interception that will haunt him this week.

Wide receiver Tee Higgins continues to emerge as a featured playmaker, highlighted by his 67-yard gain on a go route. He finished with a game-high 125 yards on six catches. His connection with Burrow should bring plenty of optimism to Bengals fans. 

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor had just 12 carries and got just about what was expected, finishing with 60 yards and only 2.0 yards after contact per rush. He did add four catches for 55 yards and three first downs. 

Safety Julian Blackmon overcame an uneven start to the game by securing the game-ending interception. He now has two interceptions and four pass breakups in his young career. 

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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