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Week 3 Bengals vs Ravens: The Dalton Dispatch

Andy Dalton is the most scrutinized player on the Bengals. In this weekly column, we keep track of his progress and setbacks so as to make for more informed discussions about his play.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green led the Bengals to a thrilling fourth quarter comeback, beating the Ravens 28-24. For a breakdown of Dalton's performance (especially the 80-yard touchdown to Green), watch the following video:

The Data:

Dalton was 20/32 for a career-high 383 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also rushed 5 times for 10 yards and a touchdown, though he lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and was sacked twice for the first two times this season. His QB rating was 122.3 and his QBR 89.2.

Deconstructing Dalton:

This is not the same Dalton we saw in 2014. The man is not afraid of anything anymore. When the Ravens came back twice in the fourth, Dalton calmly led two touchdown drives to put Cincinnati back on top. The first fourth-quarter touchdown was an 80-yard pass to receiver A.J. Green. Here's a quick breakdown of what happened:

1. Dalton spoted free safety Kendrick Lewis twelve yards off the line of scrimmage. Thus, the only man within the vicinity of Green is linebacker Albert McClellan. Dalton instructed tight end Tyler Eifert to line up on the left, in front of running back Giovani Bernard.

2. Now with Eifert as an extra blocker, McClellan moved all the way to the line of scrimmage to help with the run or to rush the passer. As a result, Lewis moved up to prevent a short to intermediate route from Green.

3. Strong safety Will Hill, who had also moved up after Eifert shifted, saw that the entire left field was left to Lewis and corner Jimmy Smith. That's bad news when you're facing two great deep threats (Green and Marvin Jones). So at the very last second, right before the snap, Hill started to turn to help deep on the left side. But by that time, it was too late.

4. With Hill out of position and Lewis on his own, Dalton lofted the pass, dropping it in a wide cushion. Green would take care of the rest with a physical run that left the Ravens' defensive backfield dejected.

On Deck:

Up next, the Bengals return to Cincinnati to face the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a 38-28 loss to the Packers. Through three games, the Chiefs have totaled nine sacks, three belonging to linebacker Justin Houston, who led the league with 22 sacks last year. After near-perfect pass protection in the first two games, Cincinnati's offensive line allowed Dalton to get sacked twice and hit five times. They'll have to return to form against Kansas City to keep their quarterback upright.

Dalton's Direction:

Upward. Even though he had his first two turnovers of the year, Dalton carried his team late in the game. The Raiders game was a blowout. And Bernard helped to finish off the Chargers. But in the contest against the Ravens, a game in which the defense allowed Ravens' receiver Steve Smith to run wild, Dalton's crisp passing and Green's remarkable playmaking carried the team. Bengals fans rejoiced, as their quarterback answered the call and buried a division rival.