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Dalton Improves in Second Game
Posted By Derrick Blyberg On Aug 22 2011 @ 3:43 pm In Cincinnati Bengals | 1 Comment
The Bengals suffered their second preseason loss in blowout fashion Sunday night, losing 27-7 to the New York Jets. An ugly first  quarter from QB Andy Dalton and company led to a quick 10-0 Jets lead headlined by a 16 yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes.
Dalton bounced back in the second quarter to lead the Bengal offense to their first TD of the preseason, but the stingy Jets defense would not allow another score for New York’s first preseason victory.
Cincinnati had a lot to prove to coaches, fans and the rest of the National Football League as they tried to improve on their worst preseason loss in franchise history last week in Detroit. Dalton, the 35th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, started at QB and threw his first pass for an interception. Then, Ndamukong Suh provided a warm NFL welcoming by slamming him headfirst into the ground.
During the first quarter against the Jets, it looked as if Dalton’s skills were left in the Detroit turf from the previous week’s thumping. In a heavy rainstorm, Dalton failed to complete 6 of his first 7 passes - two of which went for interceptions. The rookie found himself throwing behind and over receivers. He was also charged with a fumble after a muffed handoff with RB Cedric Benson. The two early interceptions resulted in 10 unanswered points for the Jets.
“We cannot make the weather an excuse. Both teams had to play in the rain,” said Dalton. “We just were not quick to start off. It took us a while. After a few turnovers we eventually put a job together that was pretty good.” 
The first interception bounced off the hands of rookie A.J. Green and into the arms of Jets’ safety Eric Smith. Smith then pitched it to cornerback Darrelle Revis who returned it 22 yards to the Bengals 16 yard line. Sanchez wasted no time by finding a wide open Holmes on a play-action pass for the opening score just 3:23 into the game.
A false start pushed the next possession back for a first-and-15 so Dalton was forced to throw. After two straight incompletions throwing behind receivers, Dalton let one rip down the middle intended for Andre Caldwell. The pass soared over Caldwell’s head and into the waiting arms of the other Jets’ safety Jim Leonhard who returned it 35 yards to the Bengals 10.
The Jets’ offense had great field position as the Bengals were presented with another tough defensive assignment. They would answer the call though and only allowed a field goal.
Dalton finally settled down late in the first quarter with a big play on third-and-10 by avoiding a blitzing linebacker. He floated a pass to tight-end Bo Scaife on the run for a 12-yard gain.
Green had another pass go through his hands and Jordan Shipley could only get three yards on a quick throw towards the sideline on second down. Facing another third down and guaranteed blitz, Dalton threw a seed to Shipley over the middle. This made the blitz-happy Jets back into coverage which set up a Leonard plunge from 1-yard out and cut the lead to 10-7 with just 1:58 into the second quarter.
Sanchez, who completed 12 passes for 173 yards and two scores, was backed up on his own 1-yard line during the next series, but managed to find tight-end Dustin Keller on a deep cross for 43 yards. That momentum led to a well-executed two-minute drill against the Bengals second defense capped off by a diving 26-yard TD reception by newly acquired WR Plaxico Burress. 
The Jets took a 17-7 lead into the half and would outscore the Bengals 10-0 the rest of the way as the game turned into the usual sloppy mess of preseason football.
Dalton finished 8-for-19 with 89 yards after starting off just 1-for-7. Once he settled in, he made crisp, clean throws through small windows. Five dropped balls affected the stat line and Ninth-year Head Coach Marvin Lewis was pleased with his rookie QB’s resiliency and poise.
“He continues to work through the rough spots of playing this game as a rookie,” said Lewis. “He experienced some different conditions, playing with a wet ball. It was just another good step as he moves forward.”
Cincinnati (0-2) has a short week to recover as they play host to the Carolina Panthers (1-1) Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Number one pick Cam Newton will be Carolina’s starting quarterback.
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