Kevin Gorman’s Who Runs the North?: Bengals bungle benching of Andy Dalton for a rookie |
Kevin Gorman, Columnist

Kevin Gorman’s Who Runs the North?: Bengals bungle benching of Andy Dalton for a rookie

Kevin Gorman
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton walks back to his bench during the second half of a NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Baltimore.

The AFC North quarterback carousel is complete.

At the beginning of last season, Joe Flacco was starting for the Baltimore Ravens, Andy Dalton for the Cincinnati Bengals, Tyrod Taylor for the Cleveland Browns and Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens benched Flacco, then traded him to Denver. Taylor lost his job to injury, then signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury in Week 2 that required season-ending surgery.

Now, the Bengals have benched Dalton.

And, just as you would imagine, they bungled it.

They didn’t just demote Dalton. They did so on his 32nd birthday.

The Bengals demoted Dalton after 128 career starts, which produced a 68-58-2 record. They demoted Dalton after he completed 32 of 52 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown without an interception in a 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Wembley Stadium in London. They benched Dalton, despite a dreadful offensive line that has allowed him to be sacked 29 times this season, third-most in the league.

Of course, the Bengals (0-8) do have the worst record in the NFL.

It wasn’t so much the plays that Dalton made that got him benched but rather the ones he didn’t. Dalton threw a touchdown pass to Joe Mixon to tie the game at 10-10 but was sacked on a third-and-10 late in the second quarter, taking the Bengals out of field-goal range while trailing, 17-10. The Bengals also were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 6 when Auden Tate’s catch in the end zone was ruled incomplete upon review.

No wonder he had a career-worst 38.8 rating.

After a bye, rookie Ryan Finley will make his first NFL start against the AFC North-leading Ravens. Finley joins a division that features second-year quarterbacks in Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph. No doubt the team whose signal-caller performs the best will take control.

We know this much with certainty: It won’t be the Bengals.

Baltimore Ravens

Result: Bye.

Highlights: The Bengals benched Dalton, despite a 5-2 career record against the Ravens. Instead of a ninth-year veteran, Baltimore will face a rookie making his starting debut.

Lowlights: The Ravens rank fifth-worst in the NFL in sacks (12) and were in the market for a pass rusher, but failed to swing a deal at the trade deadline.

Next: The Ravens (5-2) will play host to the New England Patriots (8-0) on Sunday.

Cincinnati Bengals

Result: Lost to the Los Angeles Rams, 24-10.

Highlights: Cincinnati ranked last in the league in rushing but gained 104 yards, including 47 yards rushing on a 75-yard scoring drive. Joe Mixon ran for 66 yards and Giovani Bernard 31.

Lowlights: The Bengals allowed Rams receiver Cooper Kupp a career day, as he caught seven passes for a career-

best 220 yards and scored a 65-yard touchdown on a double-reverse flea flicker from Jared Goff. Kupp had 165 receiving yards by halftime.

Next: The Bengals (0-8) have a bye, then play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 10.

Cleveland Browns

Result: Lost to the New England Patriots, 27-13.

Highlights: Nick Chubb rushed 20 times for 131 yards, his third 100-yard game of the season. The second-year running back is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 105.4 yards a game.

Lowlights: Cleveland committed three first-quarter turnovers – Chubb lost a pair of fumbles and Baker Mayfield threw an interception – and the Patriots capitalized for a 17-0 lead.

Next: The Browns (2-5) visit the Denver Broncos (2-6) on Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Result: Beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-14.

Highlights: Fullback Roosevelt Nix returned from a knee injury and the Steelers ran for a season-high 158 yards, as James Conner recorded his first 100-yard rushing game since November 2018. And Mason Rudolph rebounded from a slow start, connecting with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for touchdown passes.

Lowlights: Both Conner (shoulder) and Benny Snell (knee) left the game with injuries, forcing the Steelers to finish with Trey Edmunds. Jaylen Samuels is cleared to return just in time, but he’s coming off arthroscopic knee surgery.

Next: The Steelers (3-4) play host to the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

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Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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