The Cincinnati Bengals have undoubtedly experienced their fair share of frustration watching Andy Dalton play quarterback for them in the 2013 NFL season. While he could look like a franchise quarterback one week, there are some days when you are amazed that he can handle the center-quarterback exchange with any kind of competence.
Playing in Cincinnati in week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, where Dalton has been a tad more consistent this year, Dalton stepped up. With the Bengals holding a one-game lead in the AFC North coming into the week and a matchup with the second-place Baltimore Ravens looming in the last week of the regular season, the Bengals really needed this win to remain in the driver’s seat and clinch a playoff spot.
Looking to exploit a Vikings pass defense that has been one of the worst units in the league this season, the Bengals came out throwing often and Dalton looked quite good in doing so. The Red Rifle finished completing 27 of his 38 passes for 366 yards, four touchdowns, and—most importantly, no interceptions on the day.
I’m not sure if one game against a bad defense is enough to really make anyone—even Bengals fans—have a ton of faith in his ability to lead this team anywhere beyond a playoff berth, but this does make nine touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games. Perhaps Dalton, who I and many others have grilled for his lack of consistency, is hitting his groove at the right time. We’ll see if that continues against Baltimore and into the playoffs.