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Collins struggles as Colts beat Bengals 17-13
By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer Friday, Sep 2, 2011

CINCINNATI (AP)—The Colts finished their preseason with a rare win and a clear idea of what comes next.

If Peyton Manning(notes) can’t go, Indy has issues.

Manning stood on the sideline with arms crossed and watched newcomer Kerry Collins(notes) struggle to move the offense on Thursday night.

Playing eight days after he signed, the 38-year-old quarterback looked as if he has a lot to learn during a 17-13 preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Obviously I would like us to be better as an offense as a whole,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of things I’ve got to correct.”

The Colts finished a 1-3 preseason—better than usual—with questions at quarterback, something they haven’t faced in years. Manning had neck surgery four months ago and was activated on Monday, allowed to have limited practices.

If Manning can’t extend his streak of 227 consecutive starts, the Colts will have to decide whether to use the newcomer Collins or Curtis Painter(notes) in the opener on Sept. 11 at Houston.

Collins played most of the first half, went 5 of 10 for 45 yards and fumbled. The Colts managed only 36 total yards in the half, before the reserves took over.

“Uh, you know, kind of like what you would expect,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “It’s not going to be perfect.”

Collins led the Colts to three first downs—one by penalty—in his four possessions.

“It was good to be back out there,” Collins said. “I got the crash course this last week. There’s definitely a lot to be learned from today.”

Dan Orlovsky’s(notes) 7-yard touchdown pass to Taj Smith(notes) with 1:08 to go gave the Colts their first preseason win in two years.

The Bengals (1-3) finished the preseason with running back Cedric Benson(notes) in jail, serving a 20-day sentence on two misdemeanor assault cases in Texas.

Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton(notes) played only two series and was on-target with his assortment of short throws. On the second series, he led the Bengals from their 20-yard line to the Indianapolis 9, where rookie A.J. Green(notes) fumbled after a catch.

Dalton was 6 of 9 for 43 yards, his longest completion a 20-yarder. In four preseason games, the second-round pick from TCU completed 36 of 60 passes for 328 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown.

“I’m ready,” Dalton said. “I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity for me.”

Collins passed against a Bengals secondary missing most of its starters. Coach Marvin Lewis decided to rest his starting cornerback tandem of Leon Hall(notes) and Nate Clements(notes), as well as starting safeties Chris Crocker(notes) and Reggie Nelson(notes).

Collins tested it on the Colts’ first play, and came up with his best moment. He wound up and threw long to undrafted rookie David Gilreath(notes), who was grabbed by safety Taylor Mays(notes)—acquired by the Bengals in a trade last week— for a 44-yard interference penalty.

“I think they wanted to see how far I could throw it, I guess,” Collins joked.

Collins struggled to get into any flow with the offense. He fumbled when his passing arm was hit from behind by Michael Johnson.

Notes: The Colts had lost nine straight preseason games since Aug. 20, 2009. Their previous preseason road win was Aug. 16, 2008, at Atlanta. … Turnovers were a major problem for the Bengals in the preseason. They threw six interceptions and fumbled eight times. … The upper decks and end zone seats were more than half empty at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals sold 39,797 tickets for the game at the 65,000-seat stadium.

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