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.