Dalton Destroys Prime Time Narrative for Good

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Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass in the first half against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With a 31-10 demolition of the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals have achieved an 8-0 record over the first half of the 2015 season. The Bengals had never started 8-0 prior to 2015, and the 2015 Bengals’ eight-game winning streak is the longest in franchise history.

But there’s more to Cincinnati’s 2015 dominance that is encouraging, rather than just record alone. Andy Dalton has finally gotten over the hump, and he’s proven that the Bengals can get the job done in prime time.

Prior to Thursday night, Andy Dalton was 3-7 in prime time, and he was noticeably worse under the lights than he was in afternoon games. While Dalton wasn’t the only Bengal to struggle in prime time, the Bengals’ lack of success in night games fell on Dalton, as it’s easier for fans to blame the quarterback rather than to understand that the team fell short as a whole.

And while Andy Dalton is still 4-7 in prime time, it’s evident that the seeming curse of prime time in Cincinnati has been lifted.

Dalton orchestrated one of his biggest career wins last season in Week 16, when the Bengals surprised the Denver Broncos with a playoff-clinching victory. And his brilliance against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night is further evidence that Dalton is no longer a league-average starter. He’s already surpassed Carson Palmer on the Bengals’ all-time win list, and he is playing like a top NFL quarterback. (In fact, his teammates are already calling Dalton elite).

Next: Bengals Rout Manziel, Browns 31-10

The mantra of Dalton being the epitome of quarterback mediocrity no longer works. He’s clearly a good quarterback, and he’s gotten the job done when it matters. While he’s yet to win a playoff game, the Bengals are looking like one of the NFL’s best teams through the halfway point. With one of the NFL’s top offenses, an improved defense and the Red Rifle at quarterback, Cincinnati could finally get over the playoff hump–and it’s not out of the question that the Bengals could contend for the Super Bowl.

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