Andy Dalton is having a season to remember. The Bengals’ quarterback has thrown 8 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions through seven weeks and is on pace for his best completion rate (currently 68.4 percent) and lowest interception rate of his six year NFL career.
Against on the Browns on Sunday, Dalton recorded a quarterback rating of 128.3, his highest of the year. To do so, he threw to nine different pass catchers, eight of whom hauled in at least one reception and their catches came all over the field.
Dalton was incredibly efficient against the Browns, completing 19 of 28 passing attempts for 308 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Helping aid those numbers was a massive performance from A.J. Green who caught all eight of the balls thrown his way for 169 yards and a touchdown. LaFell caught four of the five targets he received, totaling 83 yards including a long of 44 that went for a touchdown.
Sunday marked Dalton’s fifth game this season without any turnovers. Dalton had seven games without an interception (in 12.25 games played) in 2015, six interception-free games in 2014 in 16 games played, five such games in 2013 and 2012 and nine games without an interception in his rookie year of 2011. If Dalton continues playing as he has so far this year, we should expect many more interception-free games to come this season. Marvin Lewis was quick to acknowledge Dalton’s turnover-free play after the game, opening up his post-game press conference with mention of it.
“I’m pleased offensively with our guys protecting the football and doing things the right way,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to keep that up. It was an impressive job today and we need to continue to do that.”
4 winners and 3 losers from Bengals’ bounceback win over Browns
A look at who’s up and who’s down following the Bengals’ Week 7 win against the Browns.
Following the win over the Browns, Dalton answered many questions about his Hail Mary pass to A.J. Green to end the first half and the boost it gave the team.
“It was exactly how you wanted it,” Dalton said of the touchdown that put the team up 21-10 going into the half. “When you are in those situations and you get those guys down there, a guy has to make a play, and I didn’t even know what happened. I just knew that the crowd was screaming. I didn’t even know who caught it. When I saw everybody was high-fiving A.J., I knew who it was then.”
Dalton added that the team practices Hail Mary's every week, even though they’re not used in the average game.
"The ball may not be thrown every week, but at least we are getting guys in the right spot. It worked,” Dalton said. “We go over it with certain situations each week, and it’s definitely practiced.”
The practice paid off and Dalton believes that touchdown should be at least a candidate for play of the year.
“If it’s not play of the year this year, then there has to be one that is really, really good,” he said. “For how he (Green) tipped it, and then it went off someone else, and then he goes and gets it with one hand. It just goes to show how good his hands are.”
Dalton now has 2,065 passing yards, a 68.44% completion rate, 8 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, a quarterback rating of 102.7, and 1 rushing touchdown. He also is ranked as PFF’s No. 3 quarterback in the league with an 86.6 overall grade. And has thrown for the fourth most yards of any quarterback and the second most in the AFC (Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck rank ahead of him, in that order).
“Give Andy credit for putting the offense in position to get that,” Lewis said of the Hail Mary. “He continues to play calm and take care of the football in that situation. I was trying to jockey with them, whether they’re going to call timeout and what they’re going to do, and not leave them with a short field. We made a couple of plays and moved the ball across the field and were able to take a shot.”