Returning to the Queen City, Andy Dalton won his first game in Paul Brown Stadium against the Bengals on Sunday.
This was Dalton’s first game against his former club, and his team scored 30 points in the blowout victory. It was also easily one of the best games Dalton has had dating back to last year with the Bengals, as he hasn’t played all that well in his first and potentially one season with the Cowboys.
In five starts leading up to his game against the Bengals, Dalton was 1-4, averaging 209 yards per game, threw seven touchdowns to six interceptions, and had a passer rating of 78.0. The Cowboys averaged 15 points per game in that span.
Against the Bengals, he completed 16/23 passes for 185 yards. While he didn’t have a big passing day, he had an efficient one with two touchdowns and no interceptions for the first time this season. He also finished with a season-high 122.6 passer rating, his best since Week 4 of the 2017 season vs. the Browns (146.0) while still with the Bengals.
Dalton was, of course, the Bengals’ starter from 2011-2019. He is the franchise leader in completions, passing touchdowns, and led the Bengals to five-straight playoff appearances, the most in franchise history by one quarterback (Ken Anderson had four during his 16-year career).
Despite being a reliable quarterback for so many years, Zac Taylor benched him last season so he could get a look at Ryan Finley. Taylor made it clear that it nothing to do with Dalton’s talent, but the winless Bengals needed to shake things up.
The problem was, the announcement came in three hours before the trade deadline. Dalton’s agent tried to find a trade, but to no avail.
Dalton, who rarely had anything negative to say, expressed his frustration about the decision. He wondered why Taylor had announced the move so late that there was no chance for a trade.
To add insult to injury, the move was announced on Dalton’s birthday.
Dalton was finally free from Taylor after requesting a release in the offseason. The Bengals drafted Joe Burrow, and Dalton saw the writing on the wall. Again, Dalton wanted a trade, but the Bengals were unable to work anything out.
So Dalton was released, the Cowboys signed him, and he got his revenge on Zac Taylor.
Dalton isn’t the only franchise cornerstone to leave the Bengals embittered.
Carlos Dunlap is the Bengals career leader in sacks, tackles for a loss, and quarterback hits. Yet, he couldn’t get out of Cincinnati soon enough.
In seven games with the Bengals in 2020, Dunlap only had one sack. In five games with the Seahawks, he’s had 3.5.
Who will be the next Bengals veteran to find greener pastures?
A.J. Green had a decent game with the Cowboys, catching six passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. He made difficult catches, and showed that he has more left in the tank. It’s more likely than not that he plays for someone else next season.
Green leads the Bengals in both receptions per game and yards per game. He is behind Chad Johnson in receptions, and receiving yards, touchdowns, but trails Ochocinco by only one touchdown reception.
Could he be the next franchise great to leave the Taylor regime with hard feelings?
Could it be Geno Atkins?
Atkins is second behind Dunlap for the most sacks, tackles for a loss, and quarterback hits in franchise history. In 2020, Atkins has just one tackle, one QB hit, and no sacks or tackles for a loss. What will come of him?
When it’s all said and done, Dalton might not be the only franchise great to take his revenge out on the Bengals.