With a big helping hand from wide receiver A.J. Green, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton helped rally the Bengals to Sunday's 28-24 road win over the Ravens with his arm, his legs and his head. Dalton remained cool under pressure and passed for 383 yards with three touchdowns plus a rushing score.
The often criticized quarterback did not wilt under pressure, as some of his critics might have expected. To the contrary, he looked terrific at clutch time, especially on the final two scoring drives late in the fourth quarter when he hooked up twice for touchdowns with Green, who had a career-high 227 yards on 10 catches in Baltimore.
“That was a great (last) drive by the quarterback, moving from pressure and getting the ball to Gio (Giovani Bernard) on the sideline. Gio makes a good play. The quarterback has to move. It’s not always going to be perfect," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of a key play in the final quarter that helped give the Bengals the lead for good with just a little over 2 minutes to play "That’s part of Andy. He dove for the first down, ran and dove for a couple, and those are key plays in a football game that deepen and extend drives.”
On the 80-yard touchdown pass to Green that kept the Bengals in it, Dalton said it was a designed play ready to be used at the right moment.
“It was one of those plays that we had designed, and I knew the way they lined up, I thought A.J. would be open," Dalton said. "Our guys did a great job against the blitz, and he ran a great route. He made a few guys miss, and he took it in. I’m really happy for our guys, especially up front.”
In his five years in the league, there is one of many things that Dalton has learned.
“The history in this series is that you’ve got to play all four quarters, and we expect that," the quarterback said. "We never had a doubt that we were going to come back and score. It’s the mentality you have to have, or you’re not going to be successful.”
Dalton said the Ravens missing outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was a factor: “Any time you lose a guy like Terrell Suggs, you’re going to feel it. He’s one of the best players in the league. They tried several different things to put pressure on me today, but we were able to do a great job containing. Obviously, you can tell that they miss him.”
Dalton also was upbeat about Bernard, saying "he is a complete back. He can run the ball, catch the ball, and he’s a great blocker. He picks up guys that are coming who are much bigger than he is. On our first touchdown pass, he had a huge pick-up, and we wouldn’t have been able to make that play without him.”
As a captain for an unbeaten football team, Dalton found it easier to be a little more positive and effusive than his cautiously optimistic head coach.
“It’s the kind of start you always want to have, and it says a lot about the people we have on this team," the QB said of the Bengals' second straight 3-0 start. "We’re going to keep playing one week at a time. But we like where we are right now.”