Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton wonders what might have been. If Dalton had stayed healthy, would the Bengals have ended their playoff drought?
“You can always think that,” Dalton said in a conference call with Dallas media this week. “I would like to think things would have been a little different if I were to keep playing and finish out the year. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. For me, it’s onto the next year and getting back to where we were.”
The former TCU star instead has to answer the tired question: What’s it going to take for the Bengals to finally win a playoff game?
Despite a 54-29-1 regular-season record since Dalton and receiver A.J. Green joined the Bengals in 2011, the Bengals lost in the first round of the playoffs the past five seasons.
The Bengals’ streak stands as an NFL record with no other team in history having done it more than three consecutive years. Cincinnati’s most recent playoff victory came in the 1990 season, with the 25-year drought ranking as the sixth-longest in league history.
“We need to [win a postseason game], so we can stop talking about it,” Dalton said. “That’s the biggest thing. Everybody else talks about it. We’re not into this for one playoff game. We win one playoff game, it’ll kind of get the monkey off our backs. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about trying to win the Super Bowl. That’s our goal. But we’re a long ways from the playoffs right now. We’ve got to earn our way back there, which is hard enough to do in itself.”
Dalton had a career year in 2015, breaking Carson Palmer’s franchise record with a 106.3 passer rating. He completed a career-best 66.1 percent of his passes.
But Dalton fractured his right thumb after throwing an interception in the Dec. 13 loss to Pittsburgh, missing the final three regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Steelers.
“It’s unfortunate Andy got hurt,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “But I’m not a historian. My job is to win football games each opportunity we get. I don’t spend time looking backward. Andy got hurt. It was unfortunate. We had to move forward. He’s back and playing now.”
Dalton, 28, returns home for the first time in the regular season. His friends and family number in the “15 to 20” range, but he hopes TCU fans show up in force.
“I feel like there are a lot of TCU fans who are Cowboys fans,” Dalton said. “I think there will be a lot of people who were Horned Frogs who will be at the game, and I hope they’re rooting for us. I hope their Horned Frog blood bleeds a little more than their Cowboys blood and they will be rooting for the Bengals.”
My five cents
1 Former A&M running back Christine Michael has taken advantage of his return to the Seahawks. He gained perspective and maturity after being traded to Dallas, released by the Cowboys, signed to the Washington Redskins’ practice squad and finally given a second chance in Seattle. Now a starter, Michael scored two touchdowns and gained 106 yards, his second career 100-yard game, last week.
2The Baltimore Ravens released former Arlington Grace Prep star Justin Forsett, a mutual decision as Forsett has struggled and his carries have dwindled. In three games, Forsett had 31 carries for 98 yards and no touchdowns. He was inactive last week.
3Luke Joeckel might have played his final down in Jacksonville. The Jaguars placed the former Arlington High and A&M star on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He had surgery last week to repair his ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus. Joeckel was moved from left tackle to left guard this season, and while the Jaguars have interest in keeping him, he likely will try to find a home as a tackle with another team.
4Haltom and TCU alum Halapoulivaati Vaitai likely takes over at right tackle in Philadelphia when, or if, the league upholds Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension. Vaitai has not taken first-team reps in practice, but the Eagles expressed confidence in his readiness.
5More than 84 million viewers tuned into the first presidential debate, making it the most-watched debate in history. ESPN’s telecast of the Falcons-Saints that night drew only 8.3 million viewers, the least-watched Monday Night Football game in the 47-year history of the program. But the second debate Sunday night faces stronger competition from the Packers and Giants on NBC (KXAS/Channel 5, locally).
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has 1.5 sacks, 25 pressures, 11 quarterback hits and three defensed passes. His 32.8 grade by Pro Football Focus, an analytics website that grades every player on every NFL snap, has him with the top grade among all NFL players.
New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been intercepted 10 times, nine coming the past two weeks. LaDainian Tomlinson is among the critics calling for the Jets to bench Fitzpatrick for Geno Smith.
1 Wins the New York Giants need to reach 700 in franchise history. The Giants (699-593-33) will join the Green Bay Packers (754-569-37) and Chicago Bears (759-576-72) as the only teams to reach 700 total victories.
2017 NFL Draft
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com gives his top-10 senior tight ends and top-five draft-eligible underclassmen at the position for the 2017 draft:
Senior tight ends
1. Jake Butt, Mich (6-5, 250, 4.74)
2. O.J. Howard, Ala (6-6, 242, 4.57)
3. Evan Engram, Miss (6-3, 227, 4.64)
4. Gerald Everett, S. Ala (6-3, 240,4.68)
5. Jordan Leggett, Clemson (6-5, 255, 4.76)
6. Jeremy Sprinkle, Ark (6-5, 255, 4.76)
7. Pharaoh Brown, Ore (6-5, 250, 4.76)
8. Darrell Daniels, Wash (6-3, 237, 4.54)
9. Blake Jarwin, Okla St (6-4, 248, 4.76)
10. Josiah Price, Mich St (6-3, 250, 4.84)
1. Bucky Hodges, Va Tech (6-5, 249, 4.78)
2. Mark Andrews, Okla (6-5, 245, 4.74)
3. David Njoku, Miami (Fla.) (6-4, 245, 4.75)
4. Marcus Baugh, Ohio St (6-5, 255, 4.87)
5. Durham Smythe, ND (6-4, 245, 4.85)
Former A&M and Cowboys TE Martellus Bennett has 15 receptions for 247 yards and a touchdown, the New England Patriots’ best pass-catcher for the team’s backup quarterbacks.
The Cleveland Browns are 3-22 in their past 25 games.
The San Diego Chargers have an 11-game losing streak against AFC West teams.
Drew Brees has 27 game-winning drives with the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Cam Newton combined for a 67.6 passer rating against the Minnesota Vikings. They combined for three touchdown passes and six interceptions.
Bears cornerbacks have three interceptions this season after producing only three all of last season.
The Giants rank sixth in the league in yards per game (382.2) but 27th in scoring (18.2 points per game).
Opposing quarterbacks have a 78 completion percentage in the Panthers’ past six quarters. Since halftime of Week 3, Minnesota’s Sam Bradford and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan combined to go 42 of 54 for 648 yards and five touchdowns.
The Indianapolis Colts have allowed 375 hits on Andrew Luck from 2012-16, the most in the NFL. Indianapolis has allowed 32 quarterback hits in four games this season, putting the team on pace for 128.
Green Bay has won 10 in a row at Lambeau Field in October, last dropping a home game in the 10th month on the calendar in 2010.
Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.