Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Andrew Luck picked apart Cincinnati's secondary, while the Colts' defense did the rest in shutting down the banged- up Bengals and rolling to a 26-10 playoff victory.
The Colts never trailed in this AFC Wild Card mismatch and advanced to face a familiar opponent in Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos next Sunday.
"We realize it's a really good Denver team and we'll have our work cut out for us," said Luck, who broke Manning's franchise record for single-season passing yards. "Guys are excited and up for the challenge."
The Bengals were shown another early exit, as Marvin Lewis fell to 0-6 in the postseason as Cincinnati's head coach, the last four coming with Andy Dalton under center.
Dalton threw for just 155 yards on 18-of-35 passing, but was pressured all game and was without his top two targets in wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
"I didn't play good enough. That's what it comes down to," Dalton admitted. "I have to do more. It all starts with me."
Luck finished with 376 yards and touchdown through the air in leading the Colts to a second straight Wild Card victory.
Adam Vinatieri made all four of his field goal tries, Daniel Herron gained 141 yards from scrimmage and ran for a touchdown, and T.Y. Hilton caught six passes for 103 yards for the AFC South champions.
The Bengals were blanked by the Colts 27-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 19 and were not much better on offense in this one, amassing just 254 total yards.
"We fought our tail off and came up short," Lewis said. "We have to go back to work, put our heads down and work to kick the door down."
They went three-and-out on their first four possessions of the second half and essentially shelved their running attack after Luck guided back-to-back scoring drives to extend Indianapolis' lead to 23-10.
Luck improvised his 36-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief, which put the Colts up 20-10 midway through the third quarter, as he stepped up in the pocket and hit the rookie receiver in stride just before being taken down.
A holding penalty on Moncrief negated Coby Fleener's touchdown catch late in the third, and Indy wound up settling for a 22-yard Vinatieri field goal.
Vinatieri booted a Colts' postseason record 53-yard kick with 11:31 remaining, and Jerrell Freeman stripped Dalton inside three minutes to end any chance of a Cincy comeback.
The Colts, who were held without an opening-drive touchdown during the regular season, took the initial kickoff and marched 71 yards in nine plays, with Herron -- a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in 2012 -- barreling into the end zone from two yards out.
After trading punts, the Bengals embarked on their only sustainable drive the entire game. They moved the chains with a pair of third-down conversions and evened things on Jeremy Hill's 1-yard plunge.
Luck and Hilton narrowly missed hooking up on a several deep balls in the first quarter, but got together for a 17-yard pickup on 3rd-and-11 early in the second. Hilton's 30-yard catch-and-run on the next play set up Vinatieri's 38-yard field goal.
Vinatieri connected again, this time from 29 yards away, midway through the second thanks to another long completion from Luck, this one on a terrific grab by Hakeem Nicks for 45 yards.
Indianapolis drove into Bengals territory inside the two-minute warning, but rookie defensive back Darqueze Dennard stripped Herron from behind and Cincinnati took over at its own 41.
Just before the break, Mike Nugent got just enough behind a 57-yard attempt, banking it off the left upright for the longest kick in Bengals postseason history. Nugent's previous long in his 10-year career was a 55-yarder in 2012.
The Bengals are 0-9 all-time on the road in the postseason, including Super Bowls. They have not won a playoff game since a Wild Card victory over the Oilers on Jan. 6, 1991 ... Green (concussion) and Gresham (back) both suffered their injuries in Week 17 against the Steelers, a loss that cost Cincinnati the AFC North title ... Herron recorded a game-high 10 receptions for 85 yards ... Hill was held to 47 yards on 13 carries ... Bengals starting linebacker Rey Maualuga aggravated a hamstring injury in the first quarter and did not return ... The Colts won the only other playoff meeting between these teams, 17-0 on Dec. 26, 1970.