After winning seven of their final eight games during the regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals were seen as the team most likely to pull off an upset Wild Card Weekend as they opened the playoffs against the Houston Texans–who ended the regular season losing four of their last five games. Instead, the Bengals’ offense failed to take advantage of a Texans team that struggled for most of the game–especially since they failed to take advantage of A.J. Green in the passing game.
It’s one thing that Cincinnati fell 19-13 to Houston, but the fact that it took until the third quarter for Andy Dalton to get the ball in Green’s hands is the main reason why the Bengals fell to 0-4 in the postseason during the Marvin Lewis era. Even if he did finish the game with five catches for 80 yards, Dalton and Jay Gruden should have done whatever it takes to get the ball in his hands early on to take advantage of a Texans’ defense that basically collapsed in the second half of the regular season.
In just two seasons, Green has quickly emerged into one of the league’s top wide receivers and is coming off a 2012 campaign in which he finished with 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns–which included a nine-game streak started in Week 2 in which he recorded at least one touchdown catch. With the way Houston played on Saturday, the Bengals will be shaking their heads all offseason thinking about how they could have easily won this game.
And the one play that hurts the most–the missed opportunity by Dalton on the final drive of the game in which he overthrew a wide open Green in the end zone which could have ended up being the game-winning touchdown.
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