CINCINNATI (AP) — A.J. Green took a couple of steps, tried to cut and crumbled to the ground, grabbing his right foot. He was carted off the field, along with the Bengals’ hopes of a late-season recovery.
They keep unraveling a little more each week.
Rookie Phillip Lindsay rushed for a career-high 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns Sunday as Denver adapted to a windy afternoon and got its third straight victory, 24-10 over the Bengals.
After a 4-1 start, Cincinnati (5-7) has dropped six of seven with a historically bad defense and a series of injuries that depleted the roster. Not even a change in defensive coordinator has made much of a dent.
“I just want to see us challenge ourselves to turn it around before the end of the season,” cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said. “That’s the only thing I can say right now.”
The Bengals are imploding in coach Marvin Lewis’ 16th season. He fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and assumed the job of running the defense, but they’re 0-3 under that arrangement.
The Broncos (6-6) rushed for 218 yards , the third time in the past four games that Cincinnati has given up 200 yards on the ground. The Bengals have allowed four teams to run for 200 yards this season, and Kansas City had 198 yards on the ground.
“I’m disappointed with our football game today like that,” Lewis said.
With the Bengals on course for a third straight season missing out on the playoffs, fans are giving up. The crowd of 44,392 on Sunday was the smallest at Paul Brown Stadium since 2011.
Fans in the upper deck tape a large banner to the front of a seating section before each game. On Sunday, they taped up a blank banner — nothing left to say about this season.
Quarterback Andy Dalton tore a ligament in the thumb on his passing hand a week earlier, ending his season. Jeff Driskel made his first NFL start on Sunday and had Green back after he missed three games with an injured toe on his right foot.
Green had only one catch before reinjuring the foot, most likely ending his season.
“He was obviously battling just to play,” Bengals receiver Alex Erickson said. “I’m sure it’s devastating to him and to the team.”
Driskel finished 25 of 38 for 236 yards with a touchdown, an interception , a fumble and four sacks.
“Not good enough,” Driskel summed up.
The line also was in flux and struggled to adapt.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn missed a second straight game with a bad back. Guard Clint Boling started at left tackle, and Trey Hopkins started at guard. The line got three penalties for holding, two for false starts and one for an illegal block.
Cincinnati was penalized eight times in the first half, its most in an opening half since 2009. The Bengals finished with 12 penalties for 100 yards.
“There are no excuses,” right tackle Bobby Hart said. “No matter who’s in there or what’s going on, it’s your job to get things done.”