Since the Bengals’ loss to the Chargers on Sunday, questions have risen about Andy Dalton’s ability to play in playoff conditions. The 2011 draft product threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on Sunday, practically losing the game for the Bengals. But is Dalton to blame for the Bengals’ overall inability to play in the playoffs?
Aside from his obvious flukes, it’s not as if Andy Dalton had a bad day. The Red Rocket put up 334 yards and one touchdown, his first ever in the postseason. He put the Bengals in a position to win by throwing some great passes in the second quarter, including a 49-yard bomb to Marvin Lewis. The momentum changed however, when Giovani Bernard fumbled the ball at the Chargers’ 3 yard line, turning the ball over to the Chargers.
Dalton later led several solid drives into Chargers’ territory but failed to capitalize by turning the ball over 3 times. He crumbled under pressure from the interior pocket, made bad reads, and displayed terrible awareness overall that cost the Bengals the game
It’s not to say that Dalton is the sole reason for the team’s 6th straight playoff loss. Giovani Bernard’s crucial fumble at the end of the second quarter that lost the momentum for the Bengals. The team’s defense didn’t help much either, as they were run over for 196 yards by the Chargers’ running backs. Jay Gruden wasn’t excellent on his playcalling for the offense, and mistakes ensued.
But even then, after it all, Andy Dalton was still given chances to win the game time after time. On his last chance, he underthrew AJ Green on a streak route, badly overthrew Marvin Jones on a flag route, and turned the ball over on downs with around 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Andy Dalton’s mistakes weren’t the only ones by his team in the loss, but they were the most costly. The mistakes are ones that Dalton shouldn’t make, as he is no longer a young player. The team leaned on him, but all he produced was failure.
The ability to play under pressure is one of the greatest , if not the greatest, attributes a quarterback can have. Winning quarterbacks in the postseason all have it (e.g. Tom Brady, Joe Montana, even Andrew Luck). Dalton lacks this skill and is the reason that the Bengals may never get to the conference championship in the near future.
For more reading:
- Andy Dalton: Until you win, people can say whatever they want (PFT)
- Bengals QB Andy Dalton dodges his role in loss better than he does INTs (CBS Sports)