User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

Dalton gets 2nd chance in hometown

CINCINNATI (AP) - Andy Dalton is getting a second chance to shine in a hometown playoff game. The first one didn't turn out very well for him at all.

The Bengals quarterback had one of the worst games of his rookie season in front of a lot of family and friends in Houston last year. He threw three interceptions, including one that J.J. Watt returned for a touchdown, in the Texans' 31-10 victory in the wild card round.

Dalton grew up in suburban Katy, Texas, and had never lost a game at Reliant Stadium, where he played twice in high school and once at TCU. He's excited to be going back for what amounts to a second chance to look good in the playoffs.

``It'll be fun,'' Dalton said. ``There's a lot of family and (friends) around the Houston area and in Texas in general. It's definitely cool to come back and play where I'm from.''

Those friends and relatives - and those Texans - will see a quarterback who has grown up a lot in the last year.

Dalton made the Pro Bowl last season after leading the Bengals to a 9-7 record and a wild card berth. The Bengals went 10-6 in his second season and snagged another wild card spot, with Dalton improving in every statistical category.

He completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,669 yards, 27 touchdowns and an 87.4 passer rating, all improvements from his rookie season. The only negative: Dalton threw 16 interceptions this season, 13 as a rookie.

Dalton received an unexpected challenge at midseason.

With the Bengals off to a 3-4 start, coach Marvin Lewis challenged the quarterback and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to assert themselves and lead the team out of its mediocre malaise. Neither one is very vocal, preferring to let the coaches take control.

With the pressure on, Dalton and Maualuga improved their performances and led a turnaround. The Bengals won seven of their last eight games to reach the playoffs. Instead of trying to blend in, Dalton led the way.

``He's a guy that's grown,'' offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``He's matured. I think he's ready for his opportunity. The truth is, we're going to be behind him and he's going to lead us. Like Marvin said earlier in the year about him and Rey, where they take us is where we'll go. Those guys continue to elevate their play.''

Lewis was so pleased with how Dalton and Maualuga responded to his challenge that he designated them team captains for the rest of the season, putting a small ``C'' on the front of their game jerseys.

``I think he's done a great job of being the leader of the offensive group and really the football team,'' Lewis said. ``He has continued to be very demanding, but he's got a lot of pressure he keeps on himself. I think he's getting the players around him to understand and get it right all the time and play to his standard.''

The NFL lockout limited Dalton's preparation for his rookie season. The Bengals installed a West Coast offense under new coordinator Jay Gruden last year and were learning it as the season went along.

Dalton has a much better understanding of the playbook as he prepares for his second playoff game.

``I feel like I have more control over everything,'' Dalton said. ``There is a lot more stuff that they are asking me to do at the line - (changing) plays and doing different things like that. That's definitely an area where I have improved.''

He's got one more thing in his favor - a full week to get ready.

The Bengals are the most northern NFL team without a covered practice facility. They practiced in the cold last year - the wind chill was 14 degrees one day - and Dalton came down with the flu, forcing him to miss a day of practice leading up to the playoff game.

It had an effect.

``I missed the whole Wednesday practice,'' Dalton said. ``I wouldn't say I wasn't prepared for the game. Obviously, you want to be here for all of that stuff.''

The Bengals learned from their mistake, renting the University of Cincinnati's covered football field this week to escape the cold and get ready for the rematch.

The biggest downside heading into the playoff game is how the offense finished the season. The defense scored two touchdowns in the last two games, while the offense managed only one. It's time for the offense to start making some game-turning plays instead of relying on the defense to bail it out.

``The big-shot plays,'' Whitworth said. ``Even more now than ever, it's the huge plays that win the playoffs. You can go back to clips from Super Bowls past and playoffs past. It's time for guys to make huge plays, that's the bottom line.

``You've got to go out and do something special to win in the playoffs.''


NOTES: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis practiced on Wednesday. He hurt a hamstring in pregame warm-ups on Sunday and sat out the game. Green-Ellis rejoined the team in practice on a limited basis Wednesday. ``I am confident in the rehab program, things I'm going through,'' he said. ``Go out there and see how it goes.'' ... DE Wallace Gilberry, part of the line rotation, missed practice because of illness. S Chris Crocker (thigh) and CB Terence Newman (groin) were limited.


Online: and

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 8 Best Bets - Week 8 'Dogs to Watch - Week 8 Dak, Dallas getting noticed
Titans rout Jaguars, 'over' cashes
Broncos' C.J. Anderson has surgery
Dolphins' Landry fined for illegal block
Big Ben asks rival Brady for his jersey
Aldon Smith applies for reinstatement
Why Buy Picks From
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
15-2 L17 Totals, 9-1 Sun., 22-8 L30
13-3 G-Play Run, +985 TY
5-2 Sunday, 7-2 L9 G-Plays
9-1 Last 10 NFL Guarantees
6-0 Record L2 Sundays
4-1 Sunday, 10-5 L15 G-Plays
5-2 Sunday, 10-3 L13 Totals
10-3 L3 Sundays, 29-14 NFL Run
7-3 L10 Totals, 18-7 L25 G-Plays
7-1 Thursdays TY, 14-6 L20 GPlays
4-2 Sunday, 4-1 G-Plays TY
6-1 Guaranteed Plays TY
6-2 Record Last 2 Weeks
10-5 L15 Guaranteed Plays
2-0 Thursday, 4-0 Run
4-0 L4 Thurs., 11-5 L16 Picks
6-2 Last 8 NFL Guarantees
NFL Pro Football Expert Picks - Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 985
The Gold Sheet + 534
Michael Black + 479
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 780
Jimmy Boyd + 290
Kevin Rogers + 285
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Michael Black 59 %
Pat Hawkins 59 %
The Gold Sheet 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 1060
Chip Chirimbes + 665
ASA + 631
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 542
Kevin Rogers + 465
Pat Hawkins + 370
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 810
Gary Bart + 654
Jimmy Boyd + 495
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership