Chick Ludwig
Chick Ludwig

For the past 30 years, Chick Ludwig has been one of the Miami Valley’s most popular sports columnists, the past twelve as the Bengals beat writer for the Dayton Daily News. He retired from the DDN in October of 2009, and currently writes a weekly Bengals blog for the Cincinnati Enquirer and is the Bengals correspondent for the The Sporting News. A former voting member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, Ludwig is a journalism graduate of Ohio State University.

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You get what you deserve in the NFL, and no question about it…the Bengals deserved to lose Saturday in Houston.

Cincinnati – I don’t want to hear it.

I don’t want to hear about the crowd noise at Reliant Stadium.

I don’t want to hear about the greatness of Houston’s one-two punch of defensive end J.J. Watt and tailback Arian Foster.

I don’t want to hear about how ex-Bengal-turned-Texan cornerback Johnathan Joseph blanketed wide receiver A.J. Green.

And I certainly don’t want to hear about bumps in the road, how fans should support their team in bad times and in good, what a positive season it was and how the future looks bright.

The Cincinnati Bengals have no excuses for their pitiful performance in a 19-13 Wild Card Playoff loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday night. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

For 60 minutes, deep in the heart of the Lone Star State, the Bengals got their butts kicked up and down the field in all phases — offense, defense and special teams. They got outplayed, out-coached and out-everything(ed) else.

Not only are the Bengals not ready for prime time, they showed — with one offensive touchdown in the past 12 quarters — they weren’t worthy to even be here. Question: If you’re gonna play this bad, why practice?

The only Bengals’ highlight came at 9:30 of the second quarter when cornerback Leon Hall intercepted a Matt Schaub pass near the left sideline and scored from 21 yards out for a short-lived 7-6 lead.

The Bengals couldn’t tackle Foster, couldn’t block Watt, couldn’t score an offensive touchdown and couldn’t give their poor defense a rest because the offense couldn’t sustain any drives.

And to pour salt in their wounds, Joseph and kicker Shayne Graham made their former team pay. Graham, a Bengal from 2003-09, booted four field goals. And Joseph, a Bengal from 2006-10, generated five tackles, swatted two passes and intercepted Dalton.

The stats tell the story of Houston’s domination.

For the Texans: 420 total yards, 8-for-17 (47 percent) third-down efficiency, two sacks, 77 offensive plays and 24 first downs. They passed for 262 yards, rushed for 158 yards and held the ball for 38 minutes, 49 seconds.

For the Bengals: 198 total yards, 0-for-9 third-down efficiency, zero sacks, 48 measly offensive plays and 12 first downs. They averaged 5.0 yards per rush, but ran it just 16 times. Their time of possession: 21:11.

And they suffered the indignity of losing at Houston for the second straight season in the Wild Card round.

A year ago in that humbling 31-10 defeat, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton completed 27 of 42 passes for 257 yards, no TDs and three interceptions.

This time around, Dalton was 14 of 30 for 127 yards, two sacks, no TDs and one interception for a passer rating of 44.7. Take away a 45-yard completion to A.J. Green, and Dalton passed for just 82 yards.

A year ago, Foster rushed 24 times for 153 yards and two TDs. This time: 140 yards on 32 carries with one TD. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games.

The No. 3 seed Texans (13-4) visit No. 2 seed New England (12-4) on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 4:30 p.m. The Bengals go home to lick their wounds and study their needs — running back, center, linebacker, cornerback and strong safety just to name a handful.

Where was the intensity? Where was the emotion? The Bengals’ coaches and players looked detached on the sideline. I didn’t see Dalton rallying his offensive line. Green’s face was drained of all expression. Head coach Marvin Lewis’ face resembled tight end Jermaine Gresham’s hands. Stone.

Bengals fans need to quit sugarcoating this game and this season. It’s about winning. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991. They’ve had three chances in four years to change their national perception as losers, but failed each time.

You get what you deserve in the NFL and the Bengals deserved to lose.

(Chick Ludwig hosts “The Chick Ludwig Show” weekdays 3-6 p.m. on Dayton’s WONE-AM (980) and “Monday Morning Quarterback” on Mondays from 6-8 a.m. on Cincinnati’s Fox Sports 1360 (WSAI-AM). Follow Ludwig on Twitter @ChickLudwig)

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