Once the game reached an inevitable conclusion with the Bengals losing 27-10 to the San Diego Chargers, calls for Marvin Lewis' firing and a future without quarterback Andy Dalton are gaining emotional strength. In truth, the reaction was predictable but usually short-lived. Without a game for Good Andy to suspicious remove Bad Andy outings, the Bengals, media and all of the fans will be brooding about this loss until the next game... next season.
In a gloomy locker room following the loss, the Bengals coaching staff and players are saying all of the right things, predictably having Dalton's back.
Including Marvin Lewis, who says that Dalton "is the football team."
"I don’t have any questions about Andy’s role in this thing," said Lewis via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "We just have to keep working it. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything to help Andy all the time. He’s going to be very disappointed in himself today, obviously. He is the football team, and I’m sure he’s very disappointed."
We get that Lewis isn't going to throw anyone under the bus -- he rarely does that without having motivating subtleties behind them -- and since there's no game next week, no need for motivations.
However, here's where the Bengals could be facing a miscalculation. There's only so much that the fanbase will accept in the "we'll keep working" department without having substantial gains presented to them in the way of a postseason win. This isn't really meant for the readers at CJ -- you crazy bats are way too obsessed to let it go and god bless you.
Don't get me wrong. Qualifying for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons is awesome and worthy of praise in of itself. Winning the division and qualifying for the postseason is great.
But after losing six straight playoff games with Marvin Lewis going 0-5 in 11 seasons, there's one-and-done fatigue setting in. If struggling to sell out Sunday's game was any indication, the enthusiasm from the fanbase is waning.
Yes, other teams struggled to sell out and the league has admitted before that, due to the late scheduling, wild card weekend is the toughest sell.
On the other hand, the Packers sent out playoff invoices to season ticket holders in November (with Aaron Rodgers on the shelf and Green Bay appearing as if they won't make it) for the opportunity to purchase playoff tickets. Many threw them away when the option for a refund was eliminated. And from various reports, the season ticket base in Indianapolis, like Cincinnati, is down. Yet the Bengals haven't had this problem before when hosting a playoff game.
Despite selling out every game this season, they weren't all easy sell outs. Steelers, Packers and Patriots were easy sells due to the opponents. They required an extension against the Vikings and announced sell outs on the Thursday deadline several times this season.
Either way, Marvin Lewis, Mike Brown, Katie Blackburn and the Bengals organization better be prepared to deal with fan exhaustion that's losing their patience for that coveted and elusive playoff win.