Dalton thriving in first year


    Well, he did it again.

    The clean-cut, God-fearing first-year starter just keeps winning.

    And no, his last name isn’t Tebow.

    Former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton led Cincinnati to a 23-20 win over division rival Cleveland on Sunday, throwing for 270 yards and a touchdown on 21 of 31 passing.

    Sunday’s victory was a bounce-back win for the Bengals after losing consecutive games to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, respectively, but Cincinnati’s first season with Dalton, who was selected in the second round of April’s NFL Draft, has been an overwhelming success. At 7-4, the Bengals have already eclipsed their 2010 win total (four) and, at one point this season, led the division after winning five straight games.

    And they’ve done it with Dalton leading the charge.

    The red-headed rookie, who went 42-7 in his time at TCU and capped off his career with a Rose Bowl win in January, has tossed an NFL rookie-best 16 touchdowns while completing 60.1 percent of his passes.

    More so than that, Dalton has seemingly solved the riddle that’s stumped rookie quarterbacks for years — he’s learned how to win.

    And do so with a team that hasn’t done much of it the past few seasons.

    Surprised? Well, most are.

    TCU head coach Gary Patterson isn’t. He just can’t believe it’s coming so quick for Dalton.
    “I’m happy for him,” Patterson said. “What he’s doing now is not a surprise to me, but I’d be a liar if I said that I knew he’d be doing this as a rookie.”

    Patterson said Dalton is setting an example for an entire franchise — now and in the future.

    “I think the city of Cincinnati likes how Andy Dalton is a great role model for how you want to do things going down the road,” Patterson said. “Andy Dalton is trying right now to be the best that he can be.”

    Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty, who’s been covering Cincinnati sports for more than 20 years, said the city has embraced Dalton but hasn’t made him into a celebrity just yet, which is perfectly fine with the soft-spoken rookie who’s quite content on keeping a low profile.

    “Of course, everybody knows who he is, but this is not a place that gets caught up in celebrities,” Daugherty said. “People here, they like their athletes, but they’re not overly impressed with celebrities, and Andy is not that kind of guy anyway.”

    But Daugherty said the most impressive thing about Dalton’s early season successes may have been the circumstances of his arrival.

    Because of the NFL lockout, Dalton was forced to go the entire summer without talking to a coach or participating in organized team activities, Daugherty said.

    “He came in under the worst possible scenario,” Daugherty said. “He had no [organized team activities]. He had no mini-camps. He had a playbook, but he didn’t have a coach.”
    Daugherty said describing Dalton’s play as surprising might be an understatement.

    “Nobody thought he could do what he’s done,” Daugherty said. “That goes for the whole team, but obviously he’s the center of it. Surprising is an OK word. Maybe shocked would be a better word to describe how well he’s played.”