Halftime Observations: Bengals Get Off to Hot Start, Lead Colts 24-21

James Rapien

CINCINNATI — The Bengals got off to their best start of the season on Sunday against the Colts, unfortunately they only have a 3-point lead at halftime. 

Cincinnati leads 24-21 at the half. 

The Bengals' defense forced a turnover and two punts on the Colts' first three drives of the game. That put their offense in good position early on.

A fumble by Colts tight end Jack Doyle gave Joe Burrow and the Bengals a short field on their first drive of the game. 

They ran the ball five times en route to their first touchdown on their opening drive of the season. The Bengals capped off a seven-play, 47-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Giovani Bernard. 

The offense wasn't done. They scored 14 first quarter points, which is more than they scored in the opening quarter in their first five games combined (13). 

Burrow scored on a quarterback sneak from the two-yard line. Head coach Zac Taylor opted to go for it on fourth-and-inches and the decision paid off. 

The Bengals defense forced a second consecutive punt and Burrow took advantage. He connected with rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins for a 67-yard pass on third-and-nine. 

Higgins' 67-yard reception is the Bengals' longest offensive play since 2017. The Bengals scored on a seven-yard run by Joe Mixon on the very next play. 

Buckle Up

The Colts' offense got into a rhythm after their slow start. Philip Rivers led Indianapolis downfield for three-straight touchdowns to end the first half. 

The Bengals got off to a 21-0 start, but this game is far from over. Taylor, Burrow and the rest of this offense needs to keep their foot on the gas. 

They did plenty of good things in the first half, but Rivers is on fire.

The Bengals' defense had multiple coverage breakdowns that led to wide open receivers for Rivers. The veteran quarterback sliced and diced Cincinnati's zone in the second quarter. Rivers completed 18-of-26 first half passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Bengals kept the Colts' rushing attack in check, partially because of their hot start. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has 18 yards on five attempts. 

Key Injury

Mixon suffered a right foot injury late in the second quarter. He missed an entire drive, but did return to the sideline after a brief stint in the locker room. 

The Bengals Will Win If....

Taylor continues to put pressure on the Colts' defense. He needs to continue to push the ball downfield. 

This offense is going to have to win the game. They got A.J. Green involved on their second drive, but they need someone other than Tyler Boyd or Higgins to make plays. 

Mike Thomas hasn't given them much and John Ross hasn't been targeted even though he's active for the first time since Week 2. 

This is a track meet. The first team to 40 could win this game. It's up to Taylor to press the right buttons in the second half. 

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