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Bengals stay in mix for playoff bye with win over Colts

The Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals both entered Sunday's game with 8-4 records. But these are two teams heading in opposite directions after the Bengals' 42-28 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals have a shot for a playoff bye in the AFC, while the Colts look headed for the No. 4 seed.

Here's what else we learned in this one:

  1. Give quarterback Andy Dalton and the Bengals' offense a ton of credit. They were aggressive throwing intermediate and deep passes throughout the game. Dalton was sharp on third downs. The Colts threatened to come back multiple times in the second half, but the Bengals' offense repeatedly responded with sustained drives and touchdowns.
  1. The biggest difference this season with the Bengals' offense: running back Giovani Bernard. He racked up 148 yards from scrimmage, with big plays in the running game and as a receiver. We love that Bernard is so comfortable running between the tackles. Cincinnati's offensive line pushed around the Colts all day.
  1. The Colts scored 28 points in the second half. Much of it was on shoddy tackling by the Bengals and great throws by quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts could barely run their offense in the first half. They had no running game, and Luck's pass protection was terrible. This Colts' offense is often tough to watch.
  1. The Bengals remain in the mix for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Both the Bengals and Patriots have some tough games left on the schedule, but Cincinnati has responded very well to season-ending injuries by defensive tacklec\ Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall.
  1. Referee Jeff Triplette had an awful reversal on Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis' touchdown jaunt at the end of the first half. Since the play came on a fourth down, the mistake cost the Colts seven points. We're glad that wasn't the difference in the game.
  1. The Colts have found something in wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers. He is very strong at the point of attack and made a great play after the catch on a 69-yard touchdown catch. He finished with 107 receiving yards and two scores through the air. Fellow wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had another costly drop.
  1. Despite the loss, the Colts won the AFC South after Tennessee lost in Denver. They might wind up as the weakest division winner in the league.

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