And suddenly, the Bengals’ best season in the 16-game era went from a coronation to a wake in a matter of seconds Sunday with quarterback Andy Dalton maybe out for the rest of the year pending Monday’s examination by a hand specialist.
At this point there's nothing solid until Dalton meets with the doctor.
“I’ll know more [Monday],” said Dalton, who broke his throwing thumb making the tackle on defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt at the Steelers 7 after he intercepted Dalton’s shovel pass on the Bengals’ first drive with five minutes left in the first quarter.
“When I got to the sidelines, I tried to grip the ball. I felt like it was a little bruise that I could try and get through. Then I went and got the X-Ray,” said Dalton, who has never missed a start in his career. “Mentally I’m fine. It’s unfortunate it happened at this point in the season. But I’ll do everything I can to get back as quickly as I can to help the team. I’m doing all right. There are people way worse off than I am.”
Head coach Marvin Lewis ruled him out for next Sunday’s game in San Francisco. But with Dalton confirming a fractured throwing thumb it looks like a daunting timetable that may be in the four-to-six-week range and could spell the end of the best season of his career. AJ McCarron would finish out the season but figure on a downgrade for the Bengal WRs. TE Tyler Eifert was concussed and would also be a huge loss if he misses time. The Bengal attack may very well shift to the running game.