There was mostly silence inside the visiting locker room at Sun Life Stadium just after midnight Friday morning.
There weren't many conversations. Most of the talking that players were doing came from those who were being interviewed by reporters devoted to tracking the team's every move. On this night, those moves weren't good ones. The Bengals had just lost their first game in five tries.
It was a brutal finish too for the Bengals' most avid supporters. A questionable safety ruling on a third-down sack that was eventually upheld by review ended the game, officially signaling Cincinnati's 22-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins.
After four straight joyous Monday mornings, Who Dey Nation has woken up a little restless this Friday morning. The old calls for Andy Dalton's head have returned once again. Coaching decisions are being criticized, as well. A possible 57-yard field goal attempt could have ended the game in the Bengals' favor. Instead, they played it safe and punted. The ensuing Dolphins drive led to a punt that backed the Bengals up near their own end zone. A few plays later, the Dolphins were celebrating the win.
That's what happens after losses. In most cases, that's what should happen after losses.
After an October that was so full of success -- Dalton, in fact was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month -- the Bengals finally ran into difficulty on its final day.
While the second-guessing may come from those outside the locker room for the next few days, to those inside it, now is the time for rest and recuperation. Now is the time to heal. Now is the time to get refocused and rejuvenated before getting back to action nine days from now.
Now is the time for some downtime.
As the Bengals head into their brief break after this short, difficult week, here are Friday's Morning Stripes. They are the day-after look at Cincinnati's heartbreak:
We start off with this look at the Bengals' Halloween night from Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty. When the Bengals needed Andy Dalton the most, they got him. When they needed certain big plays, they got those, too. But they didn't get quite all of the big plays, and in the end, during a game that featured its share of turnovers, that combination was enough to spell toil and trouble.
As you may have read on this blog, Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins left Thursday night's contest with a right knee injury that the Bengals believe is related to his ACL. The team is hoping to re-evaluate Atkins back in Cincinnati on Friday. We were hoping to post the following link to the blog earlier this week, but ran out of time. In the November issue of Cincinnati Magazine, there's a nice longform feature on Atkins by Justin Williams. Whether the injury had happened or not, this certainly is worth a read.
One more link for the morning. Here's a note from ESPN.com's Jets blog. Remember David Nelson, the Jets receiver who claimed the Bengals' Adam Jones threatened him last week? Well, it appears Nelson was fined for a penalty he incurred on Jones in the game.