Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL ; Bengals Headed toward Awful Finish

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NFL ; Bengals Headed toward Awful Finish

Article excerpt

CINCINNATI - Andy Dalton's most important passes didn't even make it past the line of scrimmage. Mike Nugent missed another extra point. And the Bengals lost yet another game in throwback fashion, making every sort of mistake.

Heading into December, it's clear they've bungled their season away, too.

A 19-14 loss in Baltimore on Sunday left the Bengals (3-7-1) pretty much finished for 2016.

They're 2 games behind Baltimore (6-5) and Pittsburgh (6-5) with only five left.

The defending AFC North champs would have to run the table, and the Ravens and Steelers both would have to have meltdowns for the Bengals to reach the playoffs.

They know the odds of that happening aren't good at all. The Bengals have reached the playoffs a club-record five consecutive seasons, and that streak is about to get snapped.

"We know some things have to break our way now," coach Marvin Lewis said on Monday .

Also, they know they haven't played well enough at any point this season to consider themselves playoff-worthy.

That was the case again on Sunday in Baltimore, where they played well enough to stay in the game but no more.

Dalton has been under constant pressure during the season, getting sacked 32 times fourth most in the NFL.

Even when they're not getting to Dalton, defenders are making it tough on him. Four of Dalton's last eight passes were batted down at the line as the Ravens set their defense to take away the downfield throw and focused on knocking down the short ones.

Four of eight passes knocked down? Mind-boggling.

"Those things happen very, very rarely," offensive coordinator Ken Zampese said on Monday. "I mean, this was the first time that came up, it came up in a big way, and it ended up hurting us, so here we are talking about it."

The game in Baltimore was in some ways their worst yet at protecting the quarterback. …

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