If some paperwork had been filed properly, AJ McCarron wouldn’t be in this situation.

A botched trade back on Oct. 31 by the Cleveland Browns kept the fourth-year quarterback in Cincinnati for the remainder of the 2017 season – and it looked like he would once again spend the season wondering if his game film from 2015 would hold up for prospective teams once he was available again.

But the Cincinnati Bengals’ season has gone awry, and quickly, with back-to-back losses to the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings by a combined score of 67-14. The blowouts have led head coach Marvin Lewis to pull starter Andy Dalton in the fourth quarter and insert McCarron to finish up the games.

At the tail end of a 34-7 loss Sunday in Minnesota, McCarron was put in on the series following the Vikings inserting backup Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron directed two possessions, including a 23-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run by Giovani Bernard that prevented a shutout.

For the game, McCarron finished 3-for-6 for 19 yards and a 56.9 rating.

“Ideally, you don’t want your team to struggle and have to go in at all, really,” McCarron said. “You want to play as a competitor but you don’t want to go in on those terms. But it is what it is.”