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Week 11 Bengals vs. Cardinals: The Dalton Dispatch

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In this weekly column, we keep track of Andy Dalton's progress and setbacks.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Bengals lost to the Cardinals, 34-31, Andy Dalton showed heart and determination, giving fans a lot to look forward to in future big games. For extensive highlights and analysis of Dalton's performance, you can watch the following video:

The Data:

Dalton was 22/39 for 315 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions passing. He also rushed eight times for 34 yards, was sacked four times and lost one fumble. Dalton's QB rating was 99.8 and his QBR was 68.8.

Deconstructing Dalton:

In addition to his two touchdown passes to tight end Tyler Eifert, Dalton could have easily accounted for another two touchdowns, and perhaps even three. Late in the first half, he connected with Giovani Bernard for 41 yards, down to the Arizona two yard line. Running back Jeremy Hill then punched the ball into the endzone. Early in the fourth quarter, after a couple of big completions to receiver Marvin Jones (on third-and-26) and receiver Mohamed Sanu (on fourth-and-four), Dalton ran for five yards, down to Arizona's one yard line. Again, Hill would get the score. Lastly, A.J. Green almost came down with the potential game-winning reception with a little more than a minute left in the game, but was ruled out of bounds due to a bizarre occurrence: stepping on the pylon.

The offensive line had an off day, oddly against a team that only had 15 sacks heading into this contest. Nonetheless, Dalton took care of the ball in general (save for a fumble with a little under nine minutes left in the game) by connecting with Bernard (8 receptions for 128 yards) and taking off for big first down conversions on the ground.

On Deck:

After three straight primetime games, the Bengals play the St. Louis Rams in a home game Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Rams have only given up nine touchdown passes in 2015, second only to the Denver Broncos. But you can expect their ranking to drop significantly after Sunday-- Dalton and the Bengals, eager to get back on track after two straight losses, will come out firing, especially with the need to put up points (due to injuries in Cincinnati's secondary).

Dalton's Direction:

Upward. After an uninspiring performance against the Houston Texans in Week 10, Dalton returned to form and made critical plays when needed. While the Bengals didn't get the win, the offense was hardly the problem. It may be hard to swallow, but the near-comeback was a big step forward for a team looking to get to the next level.