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CINCINNATI -- When Andy Dalton met with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis in an end-of-season exit interview Monday morning, the quarterback heard "what [he] wanted to hear."
One day after Dalton's three turnovers contributed to Cincinnati's 27-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs, the third-year signal-caller was told by Lewis that the Bengals were still comfortable with him as their starting quarterback and that they wanted to do everything they could to allow him to succeed.
"I've got a lot of confidence in the stuff that Marvin's been telling me. I expect to be here for a long time," Dalton said. "I'm hoping that's the case.
"I've got a good relationship with Marvin. Marvin's been telling me a lot of good stuff. Yeah, it's unfortunate that we lost this game, but we've been able to improve every year I've been here."
Since Dalton was picked in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Bengals have seen their regular-season win totals increase from nine in 2011 to 10 in 2012 to 11 this year.
Dalton and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks in league history to begin their careers by passing for more than 3,000 yards in each of their first three seasons. Statistically speaking, when it comes to the regular season, few quarterbacks as young as the 26-year-old Dalton have proved to be as good.
That's a point Lewis attempted to drive home during his news conference Monday afternoon.
"We ask him to do a lot," Lewis said. "We're comparing him to guys that have been in the league for a long time, and he's doing a lot. Some of them didn't play [as early as] when he played."
Among the opposing quarterbacks Dalton and the Bengals have beaten the past two seasons are Super Bowl winners Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning. Each of those wins came in the regular season.
When it comes to the postseason, however, Dalton is 0-3 with six interceptions and one touchdown pass, and he has a Total QBR of 17.9.
Big-game struggles aside, the Bengals still feel adequate with Dalton at the helm of the team, Lewis said.
"We'll continue to win big games," Lewis said. "But we're asking a lot out of him. There's no doubt about it.
"I believe in his abilities, I believe in his makeup, I believe in his maturity. And I believe in his ability to let the last play go and move on to the next play. That's probably one of his best attributes of all."
One drive after Dalton's third-quarter fumble led to a Chargers field goal Sunday, Dalton threw an interception off his back foot. On the possession after that, he was intercepted again.
At the end of his three-turnover run, the Bengals trailed only 20-10. In Dalton's eyes, though, that 10-point deficit with 10:28 remaining in the game felt like a 30-point lead for San Diego.
"You've got to know that you're still in the game," Dalton said. "Maybe it's just the atmosphere of the playoffs, but little things seem a lot bigger than they really are.
"You get down two scores, but you still have so much time, but it might feel like you're down three scores or four scores. It's about being able to manage the emotion of the game."