CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Starting quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to the season opener against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
With 56 seconds left in the first half, Andy Dalton surveyed the field with four yards needed to convert a third down. Dalton had already completed a 13-yard pass to Jerome Simpson and a seven-yard completion to Brian Leonard that setup a manageable third down near mid-field. Down 14-13, Dalton and the Bengals offense were in a position to score points before the end of the first half, to retake the lead.
Yet the play (incomplete pass to A.J. Green) was minor compared to the impact it would have afterwards. As Dalton got rid of the football, Browns rookie defensive tackle Phil Dawson dropped the rookie quarterback. Dalton began flexing his arm momentarily while looking at the sidelines, still laying on the ground. Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, not Dalton, was on the sidelines warming up, as Dalton would call it a day, completing 10 of 15 passes for 81 yards, including a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham.
Initial reports suggested that Dalton suffered a wrist injury that required x-rays during half-time. After Cincinnati's 27-17 regular season opening win, head coach Marvin Lewis refuted that he hurt his wrist (Lewis didn't bother clarifying what the injury actually was), though x-ray scans were negative and Lewis is hopeful that Dalton can return next week against the Denver Broncos.
Dalton: "It's fine. I couldn't have gripped the ball like I wanted to. The plan is to play next week."