Upon further review, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's broken right thumb and the Bengals' high hopes for this season should be intact.
Had running back Gio Bernard done his job thoroughly from the start on the first-quarter play Sunday against Pittsburgh, Dalton may be suiting up for the 49ers this weekend in the game at San Francisco.
The first read on the quick-hitter pass play on the Bengals' first drive against the Steelers was a short look left to Bernard. It was second-and-goal on the Pittsburgh four yard line out of the shotgun on what would be a nine-play, 86-yard drive.
Bernard's first assignment on the play was to impede the progress of left defensive end Stephon Truitt, but Bernard failed to block Truitt first before getting to the spot where he was supposed to receive the ball.
Bernard appeared to round out his assignment by taking a step in the direction of Truitt, throwing a left elbow, then spinning ever so slightly to his left to receive the dump-off pass.
Truitt, ranging free absent a block from Bernard, appears to read the play by stopping his pursuit of Dalton and angling more toward Bernard in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment. That put Truitt in between Dalton and Bernard. He reached down for the low toss, nimbly grabbed it, and starting running with the surprise interception.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis thought that Dalton was to blame, as well. When asked if there was something that should have happened differently on the interception, the coach said, “Just don’t make a bad play worse. Throw it away, live to play another down."
Dalton was immediately in pursuit of Truitt. He went low, hands first, in his tackle attempt and slammed his right thumb in the knee and upper shin area of Truitt's left leg before falling to the ground and rolling over. He came off the field and was taken inside Paul Brown Stadium where his right throwing hand was placed in a black cast.
Dalton returned to the field to watch backup A.J. McCarron direct the offense in what would eventually be a costly loss for the Bengals.
Dalton on Monday visited a specialist who said the fracture did not require surgery. Lewis said Dalton is week -to-week in a best-case scenario, and didn't rule out the quarterback for any action the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, following Sunday.
Based on that information, it's possible that Dalton suffered a hairline fracture in his right thumb, not a large crack that might have required surgery and the placement of pins, which would have without question knocked Dalton out for the rest of the season.