The defeat the Cincinnati Bengals suffered on Sunday did more than just add a number in the loss column. It also has the team headed into a very tough remaining three games on a sour note and with very little momentum.
The game against the Dallas Cowboys was one the Bengals should have won.
A.J. Green knows he could have scored that touchdown. Chris Crocker knows he could have had that interception. Likewise, Terence Newman could have gotten his revenge on his former team with an interception of his own. Marvin Lewis and Jay Gruden could have used BenJarvus Green-Ellis more when they were ahead by nine points.
It was a game of "what if," and any one of the could-have-been plays automatically changes the landscape of the game and possibly gives Cincinnati a fifth-straight win.
The loss also came during a week that both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers failed to win their respective games. One way of looking at that fact is that the Bengals dodged a season-ending bullet. Another way of looking at it is that the Bengals could be in sole possession of a wild card right now, with eyes set on a possible division title.
Oh, how just one week can change the possibilities of an entire season.
Now, with their game against the Philadelphia Eagles next week, Cincinnati needs to find some way to regain some of the momentum they rode when hot play ruled their November weeks. For looming just ahead are ever-important games against AFC North juggernauts Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
These next three games will make or break Cincinnati’s season, and it’s very possible they will miss the playoffs without winning out. Just a single loss could seal their fate, and it all depends on things completely out of their control.
If that’s not something Cincinnati wants, then they need to figure out how to win again. And that needs to happen sometime before Thursday night.