Margus Hunt's injury-riddled sophomore season in the National Football League came to an end Sunday night.
Hunt, the first Estonian who is not a US citizen to play in the NFL, played Sunday in Cincinnati's 26-10 loss to Indianapolis in the wild-card round of the playoffs. It was his first playing time since the defensive end suffered an ankle injury on November 17, and the 2.03-meter (6-foot-8) player from Karksi-Nuia did not see the field again until Sunday's game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The defense end made his presence known, registering a half-sack, along with Gino Atkins, on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. He assisted on another tackle as a substitute. However, Cincinnati's defense was generally ineffective against Indianapolis' offensive line, and the Colts wore down the Bengals, 10-7 leaders early in the second quarter, in the second half.
Improving the team's pass rush is a major concern going into next season for the Bengals. The team only had 20 regular-season sacks, its lowest total since 2007, a key statistic in any NFL defense. Hunt, Robert Geathers, and Domata Peko, the players tasked with pressuring the quarterback on defense throughout the year, were mostly ineffectual.
Hunt recorded only six tackles and one sack during the year, and FoxSports.com noted in its post-game coverage that big expectations will be on him next season.
Hunt played college football for Southern Methodist University in Texas after going there on a track-and-field scholarship. The Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati (10-6-1) became the first team in NFL history to lose four consecutive opening-round playoff games, and quarterback Andy Dalton is now tied individually for the record for the most consecutive opening-round playoff losses in the position.
The Colts (12-5) will play at Denver (12-4) on Sunday in the American Football Conference divisional round.
Editor: S. Abel