The Bengals had only the faintest of playoff hopes heading into Sunday’s game against the Bears, but winning out would allow them to finish the season with a winning record even if it didn’t earn them a playoff berth.
That hope died as the Bears scored the final 27 points to leave Cincinnati with a 33-7 win. Quarterback Andy Dalton said the team “didn’t come to play,” but he and other players resisted blaming their struggles on the short week that followed their rough game against the Steelers last Monday night.
They also resisted blaming the effort level, which didn’t leave much but their actual play when it came time to figure out what went wrong. Wide receiver A.J. Green was one of many players to share their embarrassment about how things played out.
“It’s definitely embarrassing,” Green said. “Any time you lose 33-7, no matter how good the other team played, it’s embarrassing. We have three more weeks left, and we have to continue fighting.”
Coach Marvin Lewis said he was “shocked” by the team’s performance because he thought they prepared well during the week, but it’s hard to be too surprised when a 5-7 team loses in any fashion. It would be equally unsurprising if the loss is one of the last that Lewis oversees from the Bengals sideline as his contract is coming to an end at a moment when the Bengals look far removed from the run of five straight playoff seasons that ended in 2015.