Commentary: Defending Andy Dalton Is Easily Based On His Work

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Steelers won 24-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Dalton’s day ended in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter when attempting to move his team downfield for the game-tying touchdown, he instead was picked off by William Gay, the second interception thrown by the Texas Christian University graduate.

On the day, Dalton completed just 15 of 30 passes for 170 yards and tossed two touchdowns against the two fourth-quarter picks. His quarterback rating was a mediocre 61.8
Mike Rutsey - Toronto Sun

When the Bengals nose-dived into a 14-point deficit in the first quarter, it was Andy Dalton that pushed Cincinnati into a state of competitiveness, with huge help from the team's defense, that would eventually tie the game in the third. Tremendous passes to Andrew Hawkins converting a third down and a game-tying touchdown pass to Jermaine Gresham shows up in the statistical box score as numbers, nothing more.

Yet it was Andy Dalton that completed seven of nine passes for 79 yards with a passer rating of 140.3 during Cincinnati's third quarter that tied the game at 17 with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter. He did this when A.J. Green was out with an injury. He did this when Jerome Simpson struggled mightily to prove that he could be a team's primary receiver. Hell, he struggled to prove he was the team's second option as the number two receiver.

So as you can imagine it's hard for me to accept a headline titled "Faultin' Dalton" from which the quotes above were extracted.

Even one could suggest Dalton's interceptions weren't completely his fault. With over 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Dalton fakes the handoff from the Steelers 47-yard line and targets Andre Caldwell's seam route near the right hashmarks. Though the pass appeared to be intended for someone six-foot-five, forcing someone like Caldwell to leave his feet, he positioned himself in front of Ike Taylor, who initiated contact forcing Caldwell to lose the football. The football sailed into the air where linebacker Lawrence Timmons completed the interception.

With 2:33 remaining in the game from the Steelers 25-yard line, Dalton targets Jerome Simpson on what appears to be a slant. Simpson stops on a hook. Dalton, believing that Simpson would complete the slant route, threw it well ahead of the wide receiver for William Gay to intercept the football. If Simpson continues the route, he blocks Gay out, in position for the reception and most likely, the first down. At most, it's miscommunication.

I can understand the reasoning for faulting a quarterback for a team's loss; it was Ohio's own Paul Brown that said the only way a quarterback can be measured is by how many games he wins. Looking at the boxscore and Dalton's production wasn't particularly impressive; two fourth quarter interceptions gave the rookie quarterback a 12.0 passer rating in the game's final period. At the same time Dalton proved for more against a better opponent on Sunday that continues the perception that Cincinnati's future is bright.

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