Coach Tony Dungy made sure the Bengals wouldn't touch him again.
The winless Colts rested their entire starting offense and all but two players on defense.
The Bengals took advantage of the mismatch, rolling to a 38-0 victory in the final preseason game.
Carson Palmer led the Bengals (2-2) to touchdowns on their first two drives, going 6-for-7 for 107 yards before calling it a night. Cincinnati scored on its first three possessions, piling up a 256-16 advantage in yards.
How easy was it? The Bengals had 346 yards at halftime, setting up their most lopsided preseason victory since a 45-0 drubbing of Tampa Bay in 1977.
"For our team in that situation, you just want to do what you're supposed to do, and we accomplished that," coach Marvin Lewis said. "But it means zero."
The Colts (0-5) finished their first winless preseason since 1990, but Dungy didn't mind. When Indianapolis introduced its offense before the game, not one starter ran out from the tunnel. Only two defensive starters took the field -- middle linebacker Gary Brackett and cornerback Nick Harper -- for the opening series.
"It's been a strange preseason with the five games," said Manning, who sat out a game for only the second time in his career. "It was kind of their (coaches') decision to give some guys some rest. Obviously it was not a good result."
The backups had a tough time against a Bengals offense that was at full strength and eager to flex some muscle. Cincinnati's first team had failed to get into the end zone in two preseason games, prompting Lewis to turn up the intensity.
The stars were aligned -- sitting all in a row on the Colts' bench -- for the Bengals' breakout night in front of a big crowd. Cincinnati sold 59,781 tickets, the most ever for one of its preseason games.
"We just wanted to come out and be crisp," Palmer said. "We wanted to get our work in, get in and get out and keep everybody healthy."
Rudi Johnson's 3-yard touchdown run completed a 75-yard drive that opened the game. The Bengals then went 91 yards, with T.J. Houshmandzadeh catching a 14-yard pass from Palmer for the score. When Jeremi Johnson went into the end zone standing up for a 5-yard score, the fans gave a halfhearted ovation.
Asked what he got out of the game, receiver Chad Johnson said, "Really, nothing. You're just putting together as much as you can. You work on whatever you're working on personally, and you just want to get out healthy."
The talent mismatch made it tough for the Bengals to gauge themselves. They'll open the season Sept. 11 in Cleveland hoping they've worked out the kinks, but not knowing for sure.
By contrast, Dungy knows what he's got and wasn't about to jeopardize any of it.
"The best thing is: The preseason's over," Dungy said.
The Colts opened in Tokyo against Atlanta, absorbed some injuries and returned jet-lagged. They finally got in sync last week against Denver, where Manning bruised his left shoulder in the third quarter. Manning looked fine in practice and would have played had the game counted.
Manning also sat out a preseason game against the Bengals in 2001 because of a sprained knee.
A few of the Colts' backups got banged up, including first-round draft pick Marlin Jackson. The cornerback didn't start, but got into the game and bruised his shoulder.
The loss concluded a chaotic week for Indianapolis, which opens the season in Baltimore. Linebacker Kendyll Pope got a season-long suspension Aug. 31 for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and defensive tackle Corey Simon signed Sept. 1.
Simon, who missed the entire preseason in a contract dispute with Philadelphia, didn't accompany the team to Cincinnati.
- Colts backups OT Makoa Freitas (foot), LB Gilbert Gardner (ankle) and WR Brad Pyatt (shoulder) also were hurt.
- Bengals backup WR Kevin Walter suffered a mild concussion.
- It was the Colts' most lopsided preseason loss since a 45-3 defeat in Seattle in 1997. The last time they were shut out in the preseason was 1992 -- a 20-0 loss to the Bengals at Riverfront Stadium.
- Palmer was 35-for-67 in preseason for 432 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating was 75.
The Associated Press News Service
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