By all accounts, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a nice guy.
And if you don’t believe that nice guys finish last, just take a look at Sunday’s 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots.
Dalton threw four interceptions en route to a dismal stat line: 17 of 31 for 151 yards (4.9 yards per completion), along with a touchdown, to go with the four picks. His overall rating of 39.2 was not the worst of his career (in 2014, Dalton completed just 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards and three interceptions against the Browns for a passer rating of 2.0), but it’s up there.
For the season, Dalton is now 265 for 444 for 2908 yards with 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. It marks the first time in his career that Dalton has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this late in a season.
And it could not come at a worse time.
The Bengals were actually in the game before Dalton’s meltdown. Cincinnati went into halftime trailing by only a 13-10 margin. The score probably should have been tied if not for what appeared to be another blown call by the officials.
Alex Erickson appeared to get interfered with as he attempted to field a punt in the closing minutes of the first half. Erickson fumbled, but came out of the pile with the football. Not only did the officials not call interference on the play, they awarded the ball to the Patriots, who promptly tacked on the go-ahead field goal.
Even so, things were looking pretty good for the Bengals at intermission. Dalton had completed 7 of 8 passes for 55 yards and a passer rating of 134.9, and Joe Mixon had rushed for 83 yards on 16 carries against a New England defense that came into the game with the top run defense in the NFL.
Then, on the opening possession of the third quarter, New England turned the first of Dalton’s four interceptions into a touchdown, and the route was on.
But, maybe it wasn’t all Dalton’s fault.
“Three of Andy Dalton’s interceptions were against man coverage,” Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor told Fox’s Joe Danneman after the game, as he came to the defense of his beleaguered quarterback. “He’ll get all of the blame, but our guys need to compete for the ball. We got bullied. We wanted Andy to be aggressive in those situations.”
Well, Tyler Boyd had an interesting response to that via ESPN’s Ben Baby.
“What did it look like out there?” Boyd said. “Did it look like anything was working?
“If you want to justify that he shut me down on those two plays, that’s cool. It’s whatever. But if you go watch the tape, you’ll see.”
Tyler Boyd, via postgame transcript, on his matchup with Stephon Gilmore: “It was just 1-on-1. I won the majority of the matchups.”— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 16, 2019
Gilmore, who covered Boyd on almost every snap, allowed two catches on six targets for 24 yards with two INTs and two PBUs.