Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016
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Slumping Bengals in familiar territory

4-game slide threatens season

CINCINNATI — The Ben­gals are back on oh-so-fa­mil­iar ground, caught in the deep slump that threat­ens their sea­son at the mid­point.

A 31-23 loss to Den­ver on Sun­day left the Ben­gals (3-5) with a four-game los­ing streak. They’ve had a los­ing streak of at least four games in 16 of their last 22 sea­sons.

In five of those sea­sons, they’ve had a pair of los­ing streaks that went on for at least four games. Over­all, it’s their 21st los­ing streak of four games or more dur­ing those 22 sea­sons.

After go­ing to the play­offs last sea­son as a 9-7 wild card team, they’re go­ing to be hard-pressed to get back. They play the de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pion New York Giants (6-3) on Sun­day at Paul Brown Sta­dium.

The Ben­gals knew their sea­son could come down to how they did dur­ing a stretch of home games against the Steel­ers, Bron­cos, and Giants. After blow­ing a lead and los­ing 24-17 to Pitts­burgh, they wasted a chance against the Bron­cos to keep up in the AFC.

A loss to the Giants will make them a long shot for an­other wild card berth.

“It was ur­gent last week,” safety Chris Crocker said Mon­day. “It was ur­gent the week be­fore that. There's re­ally no height­ened sense of ur­gency. We're a very ur­gent team.”

The Ben­gals are 1-3 against the rest of the AFC North, trail­ing first-place Bal­ti­more by three games and Pitts­burgh by two. The wild card tie­break­ers are against them — a 2-5 mark against the AFC over­all.

The last two games have stung the most.

They blew a 14-3 first-half lead over Pitts­burgh, which pulled it out de­spite miss­ing its top two run­ning backs and two of­fen­sive line­men to in­jury. They led the Bron­cos 20-17 in the fourth quar­ter Sun­day, then fell apart.

Pey­ton Man­ning went 6 for 6 for 69 yards and a pair of touch­downs the rest of the way. The Bron­cos held Andy Dal­ton to 6-of-11 pass­ing for 48 yards with a sack and an in­ter­cep­tion.

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