A.J. Green: I have to spark Bengals
CINCINNATI -- Ask A.J. Green to rate his playoff performance through the first three seasons of his career, and he'll respond with two words: "Not good."
That's the way Green put it Thursday when addressing reporters during his youth football camp at a suburban Cincinnati high school. He admitted having regrets for the way he's played in the three wild-card round losses he's been part of, and contended that his focus in 2014 will be on pushing those struggles as far out of memory as possible.
"If I play good, the team plays well," Green said. "I have to give them the spark in the playoffs and I haven't done that the whole three years."
Targeted 32 times in the three playoff games, Green has just 13 postseason catches with no touchdowns. He continued to lament Thursday the fact he probably should have scored at least once in January's 27-10 playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Had he fought a little harder for a deep pass along the Bengals' sideline midway through the fourth quarter instead of slowing down and dropping it, he likely would have had a 56-yard touchdown reception that would have put the Bengals down three, and given them a little late momentum. At the very least, the possible reception would have put the Bengals in goal-line territory, where they likely would have scored. They led the league in goal-to-go efficiency during the regular season.
Green's comments were part of a larger discussion about the attention quarterback Andy Dalton's postseason woes have received. It's been easy to criticize Dalton for the game-altering turnovers he's had in the three playoff games, particularly the three he had in the second half against the Chargers. In all three of the playoff games, Dalton has had just one touchdown pass, but thrown six interceptions.
Green contends the blame belongs on shoulders other than Dalton's.
"He's not the only one on the team," Green said. "We all take a hand in that. The defense didn't play good [this year]. I dropped a pass."
The comments on Dalton echo others Green has made in the past. Even after being voted by his league peers the No. 9 overall current NFL player and the No. 2 receiver as part of NFL Network's "Top 100" list last week, Green was quick to credit Dalton with helping fuel his successes.
"We came in together, and that's my guy," Green said of Dalton, his fellow 2011 draft pick. "He helped me get to where I am, and I helped him, and we took the Bengals to a different level. The Bengals were losing a lot when we came, and I feel like we turned it around.
"A lot of people give [Dalton] crap for not winning a playoff game, but we've been in the playoffs the last three seasons and had winning seasons, winning 10 or more games [twice]. So like I said, the playoff games, we'll still get them. We'll win them. It just takes time."
Dalton currently is in contract negotiations with the Bengals for an extension that would make him their starter for years to come. Green said Thursday he hopes an extension will come before the season begins.