It’s not a good day for the Cincinnati Bengals when even A.J. Green is struggling.
The Bengals’ star receiver placed the blame on himself for his team’s offensive struggles in a 33-7 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Green had uncharacteristic drops for a second straight game in addition to a fourth-quarter fumble and a pass that bounced off his shoulder, leading to Eddie Jackson’s interception and Andy Dalton’s first thrown pick since Oct. 22. Cincinnati finished with just 234 yards of offense – less than the Bears’ first-half total of 256.
“I didn’t play well today at all,” Green said. “It starts with me, being one of the playmakers on the team. I made no plays today. I have to do a better job making plays whenever my number is called. I had a couple deep balls that I should have made, somehow should have come up with the ball. It starts with me, like I said. I played like (crap) today.”
“I’ve got to pick my game up for this offense to have a chance to win these last three games, and I didn’t do that today,” he added.
Green finished with five catches for 64 yards and now has 950 yards and eight touchdowns on 65 receptions this season, making him the first player in NFL history to record 950 yards receiving in seven straight seasons to begin his career.
However, the mistakes were what stood out Sunday as a continuation from Green’s second-half struggles Monday night against Pittsburgh. He had two drops after halftime, including one big one on Cincinnati’s last drive with the game tied at 20. The Bengals, who had a 17-point lead in the first half, went three-and-out, and the Steelers drove down for the game-winning field goal as time expired.
“We kept giving him chances and plays,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “He’s a guy we’re going to continue to rely on and continue to go to.”
“It can happen to anybody,” Dalton added. “Obviously, you’re going to look at those negative plays that can happen to anybody, but he did make some plays today.”
Green said his poor performance wasn’t a matter of concentration, and he didn’t want to use the physically and emotionally draining loss Monday as an excuse for the carryover.
“Things just happen,” Green said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and stuff happens. It’s the way the season has been going, but all I can do is keep fighting.”
Green has been a big part of Cincinnati’s success since the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft, fourth overall. Through his first five seasons, the Bengals compiled a 52-27 record, but the team has hit a rough patch with a 6-9 finish last year and sitting at 5-8 after Sunday’s loss.
The 29-year-old from Georgia said that while “the last two years have been tough,” he still remains motivated to finish strong.
“I want to be great,” Green said. “Everything is not going to be easy. That’s why you play this sport. .. Every week is a fight on your body and a fight on your mind, so I feel like this team is mentally tough. We’ll be fine. Nobody is going out there trying to lay eggs. I’m going to give everything I have every week.”