new improved andy dalton nfl 2015 imagesMike Nugent’s 42-yard field goal nails the upright and bounces in between them. Just like that, the Cincinnati Bengals were 5-0. That’s right—the Cincinnati Bengals, led by red-headed wonder Andy Dalton, are undefeated.

As one of Dalton’s biggest critics over the years, I have to say, I’m extremely impressed. Dalton led the Bengals back from a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit to tie up the game and eventually win it in extra time.

The Bengals have their first statement win of the year, and Dalton is easily the biggest reason why. His 331 yards through the air, two touchdowns to tight end Tyler Eifert, and five-yard TD scramble was enough to lift the team over the Super Bowl XLVIII and 2014 NFC Champs.

Dalton isn’t just winning on the field, however, he is also turning into the leader that this team and this offense needs in practice and around the facilities in general.

“Right when you clear the defender, look back. There will be a hole, and I’ll have a chance to dot you,” said Marvin Jones, recalling Dalton’s explicit advice earlier in the week which turned into a 44-yard completion on the opening drive. “That’s a play that we obviously practiced, and it was open and it worked out.”

I guess all the jokes at his expense caused Dalton to really buckle down. And a win like this is more than enough to slingshot the Bengals into Super Bowl talk around the water cooler.

“It’s huge. We played a really good team,” said Dalton after orchestrating the game-winning drive in OT. “This was a big game, because we were facing a good team.”

The Seattle Seahawks may be sitting on a 2-3 record right now, but that doesn’t mean much moving forward. Let’s not forget this team was 3-3 around this time last season.

The Bengals schedule doesn’t exactly get easier moving forward from here, but with matchups against division-rivals Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns coming up over the next three weeks, Cincinnati can really separate themselves from the pack in the AFC North at the halfway point of the season with a couple more big wins.

“We don’t flinch, man,” said A.J. Green. “That’s our motto: Don’t flinch.”

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