The Cincinnati Bengals (5-0) took another huge step towards notoriety Sunday. Andy Dalton and Company needed four quarters and overtime to get the statement win that would make the football gods smile. When the dust had settled at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals had knocked off the two-time NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks. All they want is to be respected.
The Bengals came out blazing. Dalton took control of the offense and drove his team effortlessly down the field for a go-ahead touchdown. The crowd in the Jungle was loud and insane. The atmosphere was like that of a playoff game. That may have been part of the early Bengals breakdown. The Seahawks took an attitude and marched the ball down the field on their possession, tying the score at 7-7.
Whether the Bengals knew it or not, they were in the middle of a fight for respect and bragging rights. The Seahawks were coming off a Monday Night Football victory that was shaky at best. They beat the Detroit Lions with a controversial call that blew up on Twitter, Vine, and YouTube. The Seahawks undoubtedly wanted to prove they could win without help. The Bengals wanted to prove they could get past the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL. They wanted respect.
Rumors had been circulating that Marshawn Lynch would be playing. Head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t take any chances and prepared his team for Lynch. At game time, it was apparent that Marshawn wasn’t playing. Maybe that’s what caused the Bengals to flinch. That could be the reason Thomas Rawls diced the Bengals D for 169 yards rushing.
The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t used to winning. This is the team that the nation has become used to calling the Bungles. They can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The 2015 Bengals team is different. Those words have been said before about the Dalton-led bunch. But this time there is a killer instinct developing. Something has happened to make them circle their prey and demand respect. That will to win has come from Andy Dalton. The Bengals see it, and it may be time for the rest of the NFL to notice.
Bengals’ offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is a big part of Andy’s growth. According to the NFL, Jackson is more than proud of his pupil. He’s noticed the change in Dalton since they’ve become closer while running the offense.
“When we were down, he didn’t blink. Last year, in a situation like that, he might’ve gone the other way. Sometimes, he did. This year, he has a different look in his eye. He demonstrates that killer instinct and it took a lot of growth, leadership and hard work to get himself to that point. Marvin has trusted me with Andy, and Andy has responded to our coaching. And now there’s unflinching trust and unflinching will, and everyone around him is feeding off of it.”
That killer instinct is the way of the jungle. The Bengals fed off of that emotion as they came back from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. They flinched, but Dalton didn’t. His leadership took them to the next level.
Rawls had 150 yards going into the fourth quarter. He ended the game with only 19 more. The Bengals defense had awakened. Russell Wilson was chased from the pocket and harassed the rest of the game. Dalton walked up and down the Bengals sidelines, telling his teammates not to worry. They listened. Dalton responded with two touchdowns and a field goal to send the MMA-style game into overtime. The Cincinnati Bengals took down the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.
Dalton and the Bengals are playing lights-out. It’s time to shed the Rodney Dangerfield jokes and get the respect they’ve worked so hard for.
[Photos by Andy Lyons / Getty Images]