AFC North: Anthony Spencer
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. 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.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
|AP Photo/Frank Franklin II|
|The Browns drafted Brady Quinn in 2007 with a draft pick acquired in a trade with the Cowboys.|
Also a year ago, the Browns thought they had their franchise quarterback in first-rounder Brady Quinn, courtesy of the Cowboys.
Neither turned out as well as each team had anticipated.
So who got the better of the deal?
Dallas owner Jerry Jones and Cleveland general manager Phil Savage both agreed to a risky trade during the 2007 draft, shipping the Cowboys' first-rounder that year to the Browns for Cleveland's 2008 first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2007.
Jones was thinking of a running back from his alma mater in Arkansas: Darren McFadden. But the Browns thwarted those plans with a surprising 10-6 season, and Jones had to settle for another Razorback in Felix Jones with the No. 22 overall pick.
Savage was thinking he had the new face of his team in Brady Quinn. But quarterback Derek Anderson thwarted those plans with a surprising Pro Bowl season, and Quinn is holding a clipboard for the second consecutive year.
Quinn likely will start for someone soon. But whether it happens in Cleveland depends on how well Anderson performs in his second full season as a starter. Jones will not start in Dallas anytime soon because of tailback Marion Barber, but the rookie will at least receive playing time, starting with Sunday's game against the Browns.
We can also further tip the scales in Dallas' favor if you throw in the Cowboys trading Cleveland's second pick to a third party -- the Philadelphia Eagles -- to move into the first round and get linebacker Anthony Spencer, who is another backup.
Since both players see the field, the Cowboys are getting a little more in return right now. But we will reserve judgment until we see if Quinn turns out to be Cleveland's franchise quarterback down the road.