Looking for redemption from a poor playoff debut in Houston last year, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton struggled again Saturday in a 19-13 Wild Card loss to the Texans.
Dalton completed 14 of 30 passes for 127 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 44.7, the second worst of his career.
Of the 30 passes he threw Saturday, there are two that likely will stick with him through the offseason, and they happened on back-to-back plays.
Trailing by six with less than three minutes to go and facing third-and-11 at the Houston 36, Dalton had A.J. Green wide open in the end zone for what would have been a go-ahead – and possibly game-winning – touchdown, but he overthrew it.
“We had a double move on, A.J. ran a good route and I just threw it a little too far,” Dalton said. “It’s one you can look back on and say, ‘If we hit that, it changes the game.’ ”
On the next play, with the entire season riding on fourth-and-11, Dalton threw a 7-yard pass to Marvin Jones, who was only able to push forward for another yard, giving the ball back to the Texans with 2:44 remaining.
“I tried to put it on Marvin quick so he could turn upfield,” Dalton said. “Obviously we wish we would have been able to pick that one up. But again, you can look back and say, ‘What if.’ That’s the design, that was the right read and the completion just wasn’t for enough.”
In his two career playoff games, Dalton is 41 of 72 for 384 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions for a passer rating of 48.6
Hall’s haul: For the second time in three games, Bengals cornerback Leon Hall gave his team its only touchdown.
Hall intercepted a Matt Schaub pass and returned it for a 21-yard score to give the Bengals a 7-6 lead in the second quarter three weeks after victimizing Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger for a 17-yard TD in a 13-10 win at Pittsburgh.
“I was in a good spot,” Hall said. “(Schaub) put it out there for me and I was able to hold on to it.”
It was Hall’s third interception of the year, all in the last four games.
It also marked the fourth game in a row in which the Bengals have scored a defensive touchdown, which is a franchise record. And it was just the second defensive touchdown in Cincinnati postseason history, joining Neal Craig’s 45-yard interception return in a 34-16 loss to Miami in the 1973 playoffs.
Record runner: Houston running back Arian Foster carried 32 times for 140 yards and a touchdown to become the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 100 yards in his first three playoff games.
Foster has victimized the Cincinnati Bengals in two of those three games. He ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 31-10 Wild Card win last year.
The Cincinnati defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher in three consecutive games. The New York Jets’ Shonn Greene ran for 135 in a 24-14 win against the Bengals in a 2009 Wild Card game.
Quick hitters: Bengals safety Chris Crocker was inactive with a thigh injury he suffered in last week’s meaningless 23-17 victory against Baltimore in the season finale. … The Bengals led the NFL in average points allowed (12.5) in the second half of the season and finished on a run of nine consecutive games without allowing more than 20 points. … The 420 total yards Houston recorded was the most allowed by the Bengals since surrendering 431 in a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 21. … The defense set a franchise record with 51 sacks this season, but the Bengals failed to get one Saturday for just the second time all season (Denver on Nov. 4).