The Indianapolis Colts converted two early turnovers into touchdowns and needed a fifth to hold on for a 23-17 victory against the visiting Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Peyton Manning wasn’t great, but he completed 20 of 36 throws for 185 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions with his depleted supporting cast as the Colts won their seventh straight against the Bengals (2-8).
But this game belonged to the defense.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden picked off Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and returned it 31 yards down the left sideline for a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Javarris James then capped a short 25-yard drive after a fumble by Cedric Benson with a 3-yard run for a 17-0 edge early in the second.
The Colts (6-3) added another field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 10:06 left in the game after a third interception by Palmer for a 23-10 lead. But Palmer, who connected with Chad Ochocinco on a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, found tight end Jermaine Gresham for a 19-yard TD pass with 2:40 left to cut the deficit to 23-17.
The Bengals (2-8) then recovered an onside kick at the Indianapolis 45, but on the next play Gresham caught a pass from Palmer and fumbled after a hit by Dwight Freeney and the Colts recovered.
Palmer finished 31 of 41 passes for 287 yards as Cincinnati lost its sixth straight by a combined 33 points.