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Week 14 Recap: Indianapolis Colts Fail to Make it Out of the Jungle

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Indianapolis Colts embarked on a journey to Cincinnati, entering the formidable Paycor Stadium, commonly known as the Jungle, for their Week 14 encounter. Despite their momentum aiming for a fifth consecutive win, the Colts faced a disheartening turn of events, enduring an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. Let's delve into a comprehensive recap of the game.

In the initial half, the Colts faced a daunting 14-0 deficit, but just before halftime, a spark of vitality emerged with two touchdowns that leveled the playing field. Unfortunately, the second half witnessed a palpable dip in their performance, as they were outscored 20-0. Despite the recent trend of the Colts performing admirably, this game appears more like an anomaly. Nevertheless, there's no sugarcoating the fact that it was an unsightly match, ranking as their most lackluster display this season in terms of execution and discipline. Every aspect of the game seemed to go awry, much of it attributed to self-inflicted wounds. Matt Gay's missteps in a missed field goal and extra-point attempts added to their woes, and a season-high nine penalties, some aiding the Bengals' offensive drives, compounded the Colts' struggles.

The run game lacked vigor, amassing a mere 46 rushing yards with a paltry average of 2.6 yards per carry. Notably, this marked the Colts' first game without a single sack, and they managed only three quarterback hits. The Bengals capitalized in the red zone, going 3-of-5, while the Colts floundered on third-down attempts, converting only 27% of them.

Defensively, the Colts allowed the Bengals an alarming 11.0 yards per pass attempt, making it unequivocally their worst performance this season. Aside from linebacker Ronnie Harrison Jr.'s impactful pick-six, positive plays for the Colts were scant throughout the game.

Initially recovering from a 14-0 deficit in the first half, the Colts orchestrated touchdowns on back-to-back plays. Mo Alie-Cox's end zone reception on a fourth-down play-action call and Harrison's pick-six, coupled with a two-point conversion by Michael Pittman Jr., momentarily restored equilibrium before halftime.

However, the wheels soon came off the Colts' wagon. Blunders, including penalties, muffed punts, and a lack of execution, plagued both ends of the field. The second half witnessed the Colts being held scoreless while the Bengals mounted 20 unanswered points. The Colts' offensive struggles were apparent in their inability to sustain drives, compounded by a dismal third-down conversion rate of 27% and a failure to secure more than two first downs on 7-of-10 drives.

The Bengals' offense, averaging 6.8 yards per play and an astonishing 11.0 yards per pass attempt, showcased the stark contrast in performance. A season-high nine penalties, along with an inability to thwart the screen game, where running backs Chase Brown and Joe Mixon combined for 124 yards on three screen passes, added to the Colts' woes. The usually robust red-zone defense faltered, allowing touchdowns on 3-of-5 attempts.

Looking ahead, Colts head coach Shane Steichen will address the media on Monday before the team gears up for a Week 15 clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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