Getting blown out hurts. But the most painful moment for me of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 28-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys happened when defensive end Cedric Thornton wrapped up Andy Dalton and didn’t stop pushing him backward until the quarterback was in the endzone, a good 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Dalton indignantly spun around to free himself from the clutches of the 300 pound lineman, and then zipped the ball to the ref.
Thornton could have let go much earlier, as Dalton’s forward progress had long been stopped. It almost seemed like his manhandling of Dalton was the exclamation point at the end of a very insulting sentence directed at all of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, Dalton was the only one within earshot. And that was the theme of the day— Dalton was the one taking the hits for a poor performance turned in by his coaches and teammates.
In the following video, John Sheeran and I talk about what went wrong in the passing game against the Cowboys, and what needs to change before the Bengals face the Patriots:
Dalton was 29/41 for 269 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He ran 6 times for 34 yards, was sacked 4 times for 20 yards and was hit 9 times. Dalton’s quarterback rating was 104.6, while his QBR was 42.2, his lowest of the season.
It’s hard to judge a quarterback’s performance when he’s not given time, his receivers run predictable routes and can’t get separation, and his defense puts him in such a hole that the running game becomes irrelevant. But Dalton was solid overall. He hit on some nice throws to A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd in the second and third quarters, and connected with Brandon LaFell for a couple of touchdowns in the fourth. If you’re the type of person who likes silver linings, it was Dalton’s first multi touchdown performance of the year.
Year in and year out, the New England Patriots are perhaps the most prepared and disciplined team in the NFL. So don’t expect them to be looking ahead to a Week 7 showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Rather, they will approach next week as they do any other. Just as he did against the Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady will come out with guns ablazing. And with two phenomenal tight ends in Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski, it won’t be hard for him to put up points quickly. That means that Dalton will probably need to throw early and often once again.
No change. Dalton did nothing to lose this game. At the same time, he didn’t put his team on his shoulders either.