While the Bengals struggled Sunday night as a whole, Andy Dalton was arguably the best player on the field for Cincinnati. That's a far cry from what we've seen in most of his primetime/playoff game showings. That said, he failed to lead his team to a score in the first half, but his third-quarter TD did pull the Bengals to within 10.
Dalton then left the field with the Bengals trailing 20-10. However, the Pats responded with a long TD drive, and then Brandon Tate fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Kyle Arrington returned it for the score to give New England a 34-10 lead.
That's when Dalton took the field again, and he promptly led the Bengals on another scoring drive that ended with him hitting A.J. Green for the score.
Dalton finished the game with 204 yards, two scores and should have had a third if not for Jermaine Gresham dropping a gimme in the end zone. That was in just 19 minutes of work though, as New England dominated the time of possession (39 to 21), and Dalton was taken out for the final drive (lasted 1:31) for which Jason Campbell took over.
In other words, Dalton did good when he was on the field, but he wasn't even on the field for two quarters worth of football, and the game was out of hand for most of the contest.
Still, he took just one sack and didn't commit a turnover in a game where the Bengals had three turnovers. He was the best player on the field for Cincinnati in a setting where he's often been one of the worst.
That alone was a moral victory for the Bengals, though this is a team that wants only real wins. That said, they'll need Dalton to keep playing like this to get those wins.