Former Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton, now in a Dallas Cowboys uniform, came back to Cincinnati Sunday to beat his old team. Photo by Michael Mitchell
By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
I think I am like everyone else. I have mixed feelings about Andy Dalton.
I remember back in the summer of 2015. Andy Dalton was playing in a celebrity soft ball game, which was part of the MLB All Star game festivities here in Cincinnati. Every time Dalton got up to bat or touched the ball he was booed … loudly. I remember thinking how does a man who has led his team to four straight playoff appearances get booed?
For much of his entire Bengal career, Dalton wasn’t given a fair shake. He could never live up to the popularity standards of great Bengal QB’s who came before him such as Boomer Esiason and Ken Anderson. He was not thought to have the talent of #1 overall pick Carson Palmer.
Yet, Dalton is cemented in bengals record books and was the only Bengal QB to ever lead his team to five playoff appearances. Let alone the five straight playoff appearances.
On the other hand Dalton was a big part of the problem. In his last few years with the Bengals, he would toss interceptions that would defy logic. His bad decisions ultimately cost him his starting job. For the first time in his Bengal career, Andy Dalton was benched during the 2019 season.
It didn’t matter. The team was so bad and so out of sorts that then rookie coach Zac Taylor went back to Dalton as the starter after getting his fill of the underachieving Ryan Finley. At season end, Dalton knew his days as Bengals QB was over. He knew it; Zac Taylor knew it; fans knew it; Bengal management knew it; and the media knew it. With the Bengals having the first pick, it didn’t take a genius to know Heisman winner Joe Burrow would be the next Bengal QB.
Dalton played his college ball in Texas. He knew the state. Somehow, when the Dallas Cowboys came calling needing a backup to Dak Prescott the position was just the right fit for Dalton. Sometimes the stars have a way of lining up just right. Prescott was hurt early in the season for the Cowboys. Next man up is the mentality for most of the NFL. That next man at the position is Andy Dalton.
Several things just ‘happened’ to fall right to bring us where we are now. First, Cincinnati just ‘happened’ to have Dallas on the schedule this season. Prescott just ‘happened’ to get hurt, putting Dalton as the man calling the signals for Dallas. And third, the Bengals versus Cowboys game just ‘happened’ to be in Cincinnati this season.
Dalton did what most players who are released or cut dream of. He made his former team pay dearly. The former Bengal QB tossed two touchdown passes completing 16 of 23 passes for 185 yards. At the end of the game Dalton was the key to a 30-7 win in a game featuring teams that will be drafting high in April 2021 for bad seasons. The Bengals looked so bad one would have to wonder if they have mentally checked out.
For much of his final three or four seasons, Dalton knew Bengaldom. He knew what the curse of the stripes was. Being on the other side now, his revenge was complete. Dalton put the final nail in the coffin to nail down the Bengals tenth loss of the season.
There’s an old saying. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Andy Dalton did just the opposite. “If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em.” That’s exactly what he did.