Cincinnati Bengals “Earning Their Stripes”: Andy Dalton


Oct 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) celebrates after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Expectations were rather low in the Queen City following a 27-0 shellacking at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. The Cincinnati Bengals hosted the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, and with no A.J. Green, Bengaldom expected more of the same.  Things seemed different though, as the offensive and defensive lines seemed to have their way with the opponent.  More importantly, the Bengals, won and in doing so, swept the Baltimore Ravens for the year.

In such a pivotal battle for the lead in the AFC North, who stepped up above the rest?  In simple terms, the Red Rifle.  Andy Dalton certainly didn’t play the best game of his career by a long shot, but he “earned his stripes”.  Dalton finished the day 21-28 for 266 yards with an interception and two rushing touchdowns.  Yes, Dalton tried to do his best Gus Frerotte impression by throwing the ball left handed, and yes Andy Dalton missed an open Greg Little for an easy touchdown, but the important thing is Dalton didn’t flinch and he didn’t quit.

Against the blitz, Andy Dalton was five of seven for 91 yards, and is slowly killing the myth that he is not good under pressure.  Dalton also kept the Ravens’ defense off guard by completing passes to Brandon Tate, rookie tight end Ryan Hewitt, and previously on the couch wide receiver Greg Little.  Dalton’s 75% completion percentage was nearly 30% higher than against the Colts just a week ago.

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Love him or hate him, the bottom line is Andy Dalton delivered on a final drive when the Bengals needed their franchise quarterback to step up.  Dalton showed great pocket awareness when completing an on-the-run, across his body, 53-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu on a critical third and 10.  Dalton worked the offense down to the Baltimore two-yard line and on fourth and goal, he spread the offense out and ran a quarterback sneak for the go ahead touchdown with less than a minute remaining.

Andy Dalton did make mistakes on Sunday, but he responded well following his errors, pulling the team to a victory.  The Dalton of old probably wouldn’t have recovered from those mistakes and fans would have watched the once first place Bengals slip into the AFC North cellar.  However, Dalton never lost his composure, and when a big time throw was needed to move the ball down-the-field at a critical moment, Dalton delivered.  This week’s “earning their stripes” could have gone to a bevy of players, but Andy Dalton earned his this week by never losing confidence and doing what it took to win the game.