In what turned out to be the only NFL Wild Card playoff game to be decided by more than three points this weekend, it took a second-half disappearance from the Cincinnati Bengals to accomplish that dubious feat.
At the center of that collapse was quarterback Andy Dalton.
After a decent first half from the 3rd-year signal caller out of TCU – including Cincinnati’s lone TD in the form of a 4-yard Dalton pass to Jermaine Gresham – the Bengals and their QB fell apart after leading 10-7 at the break.
While the criticism has already begun, and probably rightfully so after their third-straight first round playoff exit, Dalton accepts that he probably deserves the chatter, via Bengals.com.
“It all comes with playing the position. There’s a lot that goes on during a game, and the quarterback is in control of everything. He’s the leader of the team and of the offense, and when things don’t go right the quarterback is going to get the blame. I’m willing to take every shot at me. You’ve got to have thick skin.”
Dalton finished with 334 yards passing in the 27-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers and his receivers had some key drops, but he also threw two consecutive interceptions on drives straddling the third and fourth quarters.
The Bengals lost 19-13 to the Houston Texans in last year’s Wild Card round and again to the Texans, 31-10, in 2011.
“Unfortunately, the last three years, we haven’t been able to win one of these playoff games. Obviously, there is going to be a lot of criticism and talk, but until you win and prove people wrong, people can say whatever they want.”
You have to respect a quarterback — or any player — that takes responsibility.