December 31, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton knows that it's mostly on him.

Dalton has played poorly in the Bengals' three straight playoff losses, a main factor in extending their postseason futility. Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, which ties for the sixth-longest such stretch in NFL history.

Although he's gotten his team to the playoffs in each of his four seasons, Dalton's legacy so far is more about how he's fallen apart in the biggest games. He'll have another chance to change his reputation on Sunday when the Bengals (10-5-1) play at Indianapolis (11-5).

''Winning in general is how quarterbacks are judged,'' Dalton said on Wednesday. ''If you win a lot in the regular season but you haven't won a lot in the postseason, then they're going to say that you couldn't do something.

''There's always going to be something that you haven't done or couldn't do,'' he said. ''That's just the nature of it.''

During the regular season, Dalton has been as good as anyone in Bengals history. He's won 63 percent of his games, the best by a Bengals quarterback. He and Baltimore's Joe Flacco are the only quarterbacks to lead their teams to the playoffs in each of their first four seasons during the Super Bowl era.

Flacco won a Super Bowl. Dalton has yet to win anything in the postseason. During two losses in Houston and one last season at home against San Diego, Dalton has thrown for one touchdown and six interceptions, leaving him with a postseason passer rating of 56.2.

Dalton is one loss shy of tying Warren Moon for most consecutive opening-round defeats by a starting quarterback.

Dalton was virtually mistake-free during the Bengals' 3-0 start this season. During the last five games, he's thrown seven interceptions and had a game-turning fumble on a handoff.

''As I've said, this is still a process,'' offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said. ''I think he's done some really good things; I think there are some plays he wishes he had back.

''But he's a seasoned, veteran player who's been in this situation before and now it's time to come out on the other side of it,'' Jackson added. ''So he understands the environment we're going into, he understands all the elements that are laid before him - I think our whole team does.''

The Bengals had their worst offensive showing of the season at Indianapolis on Oct. 19, failing to cross midfield until the fourth quarter during a 27-0 loss, their first shutout in five years. With receiver A.J. Green sidelined by an injured right big toe, Dalton completed only 18 of 38 for 126 yards and was sacked three times.

It's unclear whether Green will be available for the rematch. He got a concussion during a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night and was held out of practice on Wednesday. He has to pass concussion tests before he can practice or play.

Dalton's teammates have tried to take some of the focus off the quarterback's postseason failures by sharing the blame.

''All of us have lost together,'' left tackle Andrew Whitworth said on Wednesday. ''The truth of the matter is, it's not a negative to be in the playoffs every year. That's a positive. It's just the negative is not taking advantage of the opportunity.

''So it means you've done a lot to get there every single year,'' he said. ''Now let's take advantage of that opportunity, and that's what's great about the playoffs.''

NOTES: Tight end Jermaine Gresham also sat out practice on Wednesday with a sore back. ... With wind chills well below freezing, the Bengals took buses to the University of Cincinnati's covered practice field. They don't have one of their own. ... The Bengals put receiver Dane Sanzenbacher on injured reserve with a concussion and promoted receiver Cobi Hamilton from the practice squad. Hamilton was with the Bengals in the preseason, spent three games with Philadelphia, and rejoined Cincinnati's practice squad.


Online: AP NFL website: and

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