Andy Dalton returned to Cincinnati to play at Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since the Bengals released him this spring and was awarded a game ball in the Dallas Cowboys 30-7 victory.
Quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to Cincinnati on Sunday and earned the game ball after leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 30-7 victory. Dalton was released by the Bengals this spring following nine seasons in Cincinnati. The release of Dalton this spring came after most other QBS has signed elsewhere.
The focus on Sunday was the admiration Cincinnati and the fans had for Dalton and less on the unceremonious way Dalton was let go. There was a sign posted at Paul Brown Stadium thanking Dalton and his wife J.J. for their dedication to Cincinnati. Dalton was 16-23 for 185 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Dalton was more of a game manager on Sunday as the Bengals offense continued to self-destruct. Cincinnati lost fumbles on their first three possessions. The first fumble was in their own territory and led to a Dallas field goal. Dallas returned a fumble 78 yards for a TD on the Bengals second possession.
Dalton led Dallas on a 15 play 88-yard drive that took 8:12 following the Bengals third fumble and led 17-0 with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter. With how the Bengals offense has played since Joe Burrow was injured Dalton was able to manage the rest of the game. Dalton spoke following the loss.
"“To be in this locker room was a little bit of a different thing with playing a game, but it’s just part of the memories, part of the stuff that I think about when I think about my time here in Cincinnati…I think the biggest thing coming in here was just the reception that I’ve gotten from the fans, people at the hotel and everybody…I felt like that was a great reception to come back and feel that today…Yeah, this one was special…A lot of range in emotions from just being back in the city, being in the stadium, being on the other side of it, all of that stuff. Good to have the emotion at the end of being very happy that we got that win.”"
The game was special to Dalton and the Dallas coaching staff and team. It was clear this meant more to them to win for their teammate and captain on this day than what usually would be a game against an interconference opponent. Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy commented after the game.
"“This is definitely special for him…Make no bones about it, he wanted to win this game and more importantly everyone in this locker room wanted to win it for him.We presented him with the game ball afterward. You could just see in the locker room, just the reaction when he came into the locker room after the game…(how) important it was to get that win today for Andy.”"
Letting Dalton go hurt the Bengals after Burrow was lost for the season. Without a veteran quarterback backing up their prized rookie, the Bengals offense has been inept. Dalton showed the Bengals on Sunday that they could have had a more viable offense without Burrow and got to avenge his release.