Dalton gets a second chance in playoffs
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 8:24 p.m.
CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton is getting a second chance to shine in a hometown playoff game. The first one didn't turn out very well for him.
The Bengals quarterback had one of the worst games of his rookie season in front of a lot of family and friends in Houston last year. He threw three interceptions, including one that J.J. Watt returned for a touchdown, in the Texans' 31-10 victory in the wild-card round.
Dalton is excited to be going back for what amounts to a second chance to look good in the playoffs.
“It'll be fun,” Dalton said. “It's definitely cool to come back and play where I'm from.”
Those friends and relatives — and those Texans — will see a quarterback who has grown up a lot in the last year. The Bengals went 10-6 in his second season and snagged another wild-card spot, with Dalton improving in every statistical category.
Dalton received an unexpected challenge at midseason.
With the Bengals off to a 3-4 start, coach Marvin Lewis challenged the quarterback and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to assert themselves and lead the team out of its malaise. Neither one is very vocal, preferring to let the coaches take control.
With the pressure on, Dalton and Maualuga improved their performances and led a turnaround. The Bengals won seven of their last eight games to reach the playoffs.
“He's a guy that's grown,” offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
“Like Marvin said earlier in the year about him and Rey, where they take us is where we'll go.”
The Bengals are the most northern NFL team without a covered practice facility. They practiced in the cold last year, and Dalton came down with the flu, forcing him to miss a day of practice leading up to the playoff game.
The Bengals learned from their mistake, renting the University of Cincinnati's covered football field this week to escape the cold and get ready for the rematch.
The biggest downside heading into the playoff game is how the offense finished the season. The defense scored two touchdowns in the last two games, and the offense managed only one.
“The big-shot plays,” Whitworth said. “Even more now than ever, it's the huge plays that win the playoffs. You can go back to clips from Super Bowls past and playoffs past. It's time for guys to make huge plays, that's the bottom line.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Dolphins trade Martin to 49ers
- Ex-Colts executive Polian: Approach free agency with caution
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
- Former Steel Valley, Pitt star Ezell eyes WWE if NFL doesn’t work out
- NFL notebook: Jets cut former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes
- NFL notebook: Cardinals hire Roger Kingdom as speed coach
- NFL notebook: Jaguars reunite DT Bryant with coach