The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, going 40-23-1 and winning the AFC North three times.
Unfortunately, they’ve gone 0-4 in those four playoff games. Even worse? They were held to 13 points or fewer each time and lost three of those four games by 16+ points.
So, what do we make of the Bengals this season? They went 10-5-1 and won the AFC North. And then they lost, 26-10, to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round.
“I would say we had a pretty good year, but we didn’t finish the way we were supposed to finish,” Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We just had lapses at times that we shouldn’t have – very important, key times, and we can’t have that to go where we need to go, to be how successful that we want to be.”
The Bengals’ poor record in playoff and prime-time games has been well-documented, but what exactly is the reason for that? Does the team prepare differently for big games?
“I feel like we prepare really hard,” Sanu said. “We do everything we can, and I feel like sometimes your routine throughout the day gets switched up from waking up and going right to it (as opposed to) waking up (and) sitting around all day. Some guys sleep the entire day; some guys get up and go about their day and walk around and everything. So it’s a lot of different preparation that you have to do for a prime-time game.”
Then again, the Bengals’ playoff woes may have less to do with routine and preparation and more to do with Andy Dalton, who simply might not be good enough to beat elite teams.
“I think Andy’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Sanu said. “He’s been doing a great job of taking that next step. It’s just we all got to take that giant step and move this organization where it needs to move.”
So if the quarterback doesn’t need to go, does the coach? After all, we just saw the Denver Broncos get rid of John Fox. Maybe it’s time to show Marvin Lewis the door?
“I feel like guys just need to have (a different) mindset (and change) . . . how (we) approach things,” Sanu said. “We just got to keep building and keep building and keep working toward that common goal. Once everybody has that one common goal, there’s nothing that should stop you if you are putting time and effort and energy into that common thing.”
To be fair, the Bengals also had to face the Colts without A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, who combined for 131 catches, 1,501 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
“It was tough not having those key guys that you had throughout the season to make big plays, to spread open the offense the way it spreads itself when we are firing on all cylinders,” Sanu said.
In any event, the Bengals will give it another go next season. The Colts, meanwhile, will face New England in the AFC Championship this Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET.
Doug Gottlieb asked Sanu to make a prediction.
“It’s going to be tough to beat the Pats at home,” Sanu said. “I’m going to have to say Pats.”