Indianapolis got exactly what it needed, and more, with a 34-16 victory that allowed the Colts to snap a two-game losing streak and keep pace with San Diego and Baltimore, the AFC's other teams chasing first-round byes.
The Colts' much-maligned defense rose to the occasion, shutting down one of the league's better offensive teams for most of the night. After giving up more than 375 yards on the ground last week at Jacksonville, Indianapolis limited Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson to 79 yards in 22 carries. The Bengals had 133 yards on the ground as a team and 278 yards in total offense.
"It feels good. It's a win in December. We have to get some momentum going and this is a good way to start," said defensive end Dwight Freeney.
|Dwight Freeney (Getty Images/Tom Pidgeon)|
Quarterback Peyton Manning acknowledged the Colts knew what the stakes were coming into the Bengals game.
"Jacksonville lost and we won the division sort of by default, not really how we wanted to win," Manning said. "So we wanted to get this win (Monday night). We certainly were playing for a lot.
"We are playing for momentum going into the post-season and certainly playing for seeding right now. We have a chance to control some of our own destiny if we take care of business (this) week against Houston."
Indianapolis managed to snap a two-game losing streak with the win over Cincinnati, which should ease a few minds for the time being.
"Sometimes things get escalated and you have lost two in a row and you think you have all these problems," he said. "It was just a good overall team win."