- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: Failing to hold onto a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bengals (7-6) missed out on a prime opportunity to take control of the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC with the Steelers losing. Cincinnati's four-game winning streak ended on Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal as time expired. The Bengals allowed 10 points in the final 6 minutes, 35 seconds.
Trouble with protection: The Bengals gave up five sacks, but none was more costly than the last one. On third-and-4, Anthony Spencer dropped quarterback Andy Dalton for a 10-yard loss and forced the Bengals to punt. That led to the Cowboys' game-winning -- and game-ending -- 13-play drive.
Cold in the red zone: The Bengals had been the NFL's hottest team in the red zone. That was not the case against the Cowboys. Cincinnati failed to score a touchdown on three of its four trips inside the 20-yard line against Dallas, which was tied for 17th in red zone defense.
Costly mistake by Dalton: Interceptions continue to hurt Dalton. A poor throw in the second quarter resulted in his 14th interception of the season, which was converted into a DeMarco Murray touchdown to tie the game at 10. Dalton was 20-of-33 for 206 yards.
Atkins reaches double digits: Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins recorded a sack to increase his season total to 10.5. He becomes the fourth Bengals player to reach a double-digit sack total since 1982.
What's next: The Bengals continue their stretch against the NFC East, playing at the Eagles on Thursday night.
My thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Paul Brown Stadium:What it means: Failing to hold onto a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bengals (7-6) missed out on a prime opportunity to take control of the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC with the Steelers losing.