It might be the most absurd “stat” of the NFL season thus far. No, it’s not that Andy Dalton hasn’t been sacked yet; it’s that he hasn’t even been touched.
That’s right. Andy Dalton – after two games and 60+ drop-backs – has not been touched by a single Baltimore Raven or Atlanta Falcon.
The Cincinnati Bengals, not surprisingly, are 2-0.
“I think there’s been a big emphasis on (protecting the quarterback) since we got here,” Dalton said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We’ve done a good job of that so far. I think it starts with the preparation of knowing our protections, making sure we’re going to the right guys and also the way the offensive line’s been playing. They’ve been able to keep me clean. It’s been a good start to the season.”
It’s also been an exciting one. The Bengals opened the season in Baltimore and led 15-0 at halftime thanks to five Mike Nugent field goals. The Ravens rallied back to take a 16-15 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Dalton – less than a minute later – unleashed a 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green.
“We had a good play call at the right time,” Dalton said. “That’s the one thing A.J. kept saying. He felt like he could run by the corners. We gave him a chance. We had the right coverage for it. A lot of times the safeties will cheat to A.J.’s side, but they had to come from the other side of the field. We were able to get a chance to hit a big one, and he made a remarkable catch and was able to walk into the end zone.”
Things were a little less stressful this past Sunday, as the Bengals led the Falcons 24-3 through three quarters and won 24-10. Ultimately, though, Dalton knows that he – and his team – will be judged based on how they perform in the playoffs. The Bengals have advanced to the postseason in each of the last three years but don’t have much to show for it. They’re 0-3, including an embarrassing 27-10 home loss to the Chargers last January.
“I think for us and for me personally, until I win a (playoff) game, it’s what everybody’s going to be able to say,” Dalton said. “For us, our goal’s to get back to the playoffs. We got to earn our way back there. And when we get there, the goal of this team – and my goal – isn’t just to win one. It’s to win one and make a run at it and win the whole thing. That’s the mindset you have to have. Until we get that victory in the playoffs, that’s going to be the knock on me and this team.”
But is that fair?
“Well, if you look at the way the playoffs have turned out for us, it hasn’t turned out well,” Dalton said. “It hasn’t the last three years. We got to do whatever it takes to win. In the regular season, we’ve really done a lot and shown the potential of this team. But again, I think the way that everybody’s judged is by what you do in the postseason.”