CINCINNATI — In the Bengals' biggest game, running back Cedric Benson was a bystander.

The Bengals gave their top runner only seven carries during a 31-10 playoff loss in Houston, one that highlighted a huge problem they must fix if they want to get back to the postseason.

At the most important times, Cincinnati (9-8) couldn't run the ball.

The Bengals simply got away from the run and let quarterback Andy Dalton throw the ball more down the stretch, showing confidence in their emerging rookie. It didn't work so well, as Cincinnati lost four of its last six games and was held under 20 points four times.