The Cincinnati Bengals have won five of their last eight games in large part because of the improved play of Andy Dalton.
After Dalton threw four interceptions in a Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the veteran quarterback has tossed just four interceptions in the last nine games. Dalton has the longest streak in the NFL of attempted passes without an interception (140). He ranked behind only Tom Brady (169) coming into Sunday, but on Sunday, Brady threw an interception against the Dolphins.
Speaking of, after not throwing an interception in Cincinnati 30-16 win over the Browns in Week 12, Dalton has gone five straight games without an interception. It’s the first time he’s done so in his seven-year career.
Dalton threw two picks in a Week 5 win over the Bills, then two more in a Week 7 loss to the Steelers, but since then, he has not thrown a pick in his last five games, a stretch in which Cincinnati has gone 3-2 in to get back into the playoff mix.
After failing to throw a touchdown in his first two games this season, Dalton has now thrown 18 scores over his last nine games. That’s an average of two per game, which is the same pace as his previous career-high of 33 passing scores in the 2013 season.
Dalton also has just two fumbles lost in his last six games, both of which came in a Week 10 loss to the Titans. He’s been far from perfect, and he’s had some passes that could have been intercepted, but he’s still having one of the best stretches of football he’s had in his career.
It’s also been a big reason why a clearly-flawed Bengals team is right back in the thick of a playoff race. As of today, the Bengals are in eighth place in the AFC, with the Baltimore Ravens (who play tonight) ahead of them in the seventh place spot. Dalton is aware of where the Bengals stand and what’s still on the line.
“You have to keep winning. That is all we can worry about,” he said after the win on Sunday. “Worry about this next week. We have to keep winning, and that’s all it boils down to. We know the opportunity we have in front of us. We have to keep playing well and win.”