Quarterback Andy Dalton has Bengals on the rise
Rookie passed for two touchdowns in Sunday's victory, which lifted Cincinnati to 5-2.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks could have had Andy Dalton.
The strong-armed quarterback from Texas Christian was available when Seattle used its first-round pick, 25th overall, in April's NFL draft on right tackle James Carpenter.
At the time, the Seahawks had Charlie Whitehurst on the roster, and they later signed Tarvaris Jackson to a two-term deal.
All three quarterbacks were on display Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, and Cincinnati's 34-12 victory left many Seattle fans second-guessing the team's draft-day decisions.
Whitehurst faltered early, and Jackson came on in relief and passed for a career-high 323 yards.
Dalton, meanwhile, tossed two first-half touchdowns and engineered four scoring drives. But he was 18-for-29 passing for 168 yards in an uneven performance.
All that really matters, though, is that Cincinnati extended its winning streak to four and improved to 5-2 to remain a game behind Baltimore in the AFC North.
"I'm a lot more comfortable now," Dalton said. "Coming in I wasn't sure what it was going to be like (with) the speed of the game and all of that kind of stuff. But being able to play seven games and get some of the experience, I think things are coming a lot quicker to me."
Dalton is a member of the 2011 draft's highly touted quarterback class. Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall pick, is a highlight maker in Carolina, while Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert (10th) and Minnesota's Christian Ponder (12th) were inserted in the lineup after their teams got off to poor starts. All three teams are 2-6.
Former Washington star Jake Locker, taken eighth overall, has yet to start for 4-3 Tennessee.
Meanwhile, Dalton has led the Bengals to more wins before midseason than they had all last year.
"I watched him play a lot in college, and I remember on draft day people asked me what quarterback do you want and I said Andy," Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green said. "From Day One, I told everybody he's one of the special ones that you rarely see, because he's so young and yet he's so poised in the pocket.
"The way he carries himself on and off the field, he's a natural leader."
Dalton and Green connected for a 43-yard touchdown late in the second quarter that gave Cincinnati a 17-3 halftime lead.
In the first half, Dalton completed 13 of 18 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, including a 14-yard scoring connection with receiver Jerome Simpson. The Seahawks kept him in check in the second half, intercepting him twice and holding him to 5-of-11 passing for 43 yards.
"That's part of being a young quarterback," Green said. "Seattle made adjustments and we didn't do as good of a job in the second half. But the beauty is, we can learn from this and we're leaving with another win."
With each game Dalton is making the Bengals faithful forget about Carson Palmer, who started the previous seven years.
"He's a young guy that's developing well," said Kelly Jennings, the former Seahawk now playing cornerback in Cincinnati. "He has a proven arm. A lot of people didn't have high expectations of him in the beginning, but he's proved a lot of people wrong with the whole Carson thing.
"Keep your eye on him. He's doing a lot."
Dalton knows many teams, including Seattle, passed on him in the draft, but he isn't trying to get even.
"I'm just showing my skills and trying to play to the best of my ability," he said. "There's a lot of decisions that go into draft picks and I know that. I'm just trying to do my best."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
|Andy Dalton was the eighth rookie quarterback to start at Seattle since the Seahawks moved into their current stadium:|
|Andy Dalton, Bengals||2011||Cincinnati 34, Seattle 12||18||29||168||2||2||72.2|
|Sam Bradford, Rams||2010||Seattle 16, St. Louis 6||19||36||155||0||1||52.4|
|Jimmy Clausen, Panthers||2010||Seattle 31, Carolina 14||18||35||169||0||1||54.7|
|Max Hall, Cardinals||2010||Seattle, 22, Arizona 10||4||16||36||0||1||13.5|
|Josh Freeman, Bucs||2009||Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 7||16||26||205||2||1||95.8|
|Matt Stafford, Lions||2009||Seattle 32, Detroit 20||22||42||203||2||5||42.2|
|Troy Smith, Ravens||2007||Seattle 27, Baltimore 6||16||33||199||1||0||77.7|
|Alex Smith, 49ers||2005||Seattle 41, 49ers 3||9||22||77||0||1||31.8|
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