Only days ago, quarterback Andy Dalton came in a close second behind linebacker Vontaze Burfict for Cincinnati Bengals MVP. It was a moment of potential redemption for Dalton, whose inconsistency has been the focus of much negative attention since he entered the league. But again, when things were on the line on Sunday, the "bad" Andy Dalton came out to play and he threw the game away.
Despite a strong start, the Bengals would ultimately find themselves on the wrong end of a 27-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers. And with the loss, continued the streak — a streak of 23 straight years without a playoff victory.
"It all comes with playing the position," Dalton said after the game. "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."
And if Dalton was going to look to his coach for comfort, he's going to find he has to look elsewhere.
When meeting with the media during his postgame press conference, head coach Marvin Lewis pulled no punches when it came to Dalton. Point blank, he said, turnovers cost the team the game and that falls squarely on the shoulders of his young quarterback.
Although his coach may not be looking to coddle him, wide receiver A.J. Green might. While others were placing blame on Dalton, Green spoke up and said it wasn't entirely Andy's fault, pointing out a costly drop of his own.
"He just has to keep his head up, man," Green said. "A lot of people are going to give him heat for this. It's not deserved. We all had a hand in it, including myself."
Whatever side of the fence you fall on, the reality is that Dalton now faces a long and daunting offseason of questions, speculation and blame. Nothing he hasn't dealt with before, but as he enters his fourth year in the NFL, he's got to know time is running out and that consistency needs to be found … and now.
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