CINCINNATI — The Red Rifle will have the safety on again this week in what might be one of the most pivotal games this Bengals season.
The team announced Friday — after days of mystery and speculation — that starting quarterback Andy Dalton will sit out of Saturday night’s wild card game against division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, at Paul Brown Stadium.
Second-string quarterback A.J. McCarron will continue to lead the Bengals offense. McCarron is 1-2 since taking over for Dalton after the starter fractured his thumb during their Dec. 13 game, also against the Steelers.
The Bengals went on to lose that game, but not before McCarron completed 22 of 32 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. McCarron also threw two interceptions that game.
Anticipation is high and tension is thick surrounding Saturday's game: Beyond the fierce rivalry between the two teams, some are worried by the Bengals’ tendency to perform well during the regular season, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs. The last time the Bengals won a playoff game was a quarter-century ago, during the 1990 season.
Saturday's game starts at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.