CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Andy Dalton #14 after Dalton ran for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
When Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie, media asked Patriots QB Tom Brady what he thought about Roethlisberger's undefeated run through the regular season, in comparison to his own streak - the Patriots had won 21 consecutive regular season games until the Steelers beat them.
Brady's response, "maybe I should get some pointers from him."
Brady typically portrays himself as a classy, humble guy in front of the media. It's difficult to imagine him being completely serious when he made those comments seven years ago. Brady and the Patriots waxed* the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, and went on to win the Super Bowl.
"Right now I think, and I don't know how the talk is, but he's rookie of the year," said Roethlisberger Wednesday on a conference with Cincinnati media. "I think he's that good of a quarterback."
Roethlisberger won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2004, and Dalton is certainly a candidate for it this year. Clearly, he's a far more polished passer than his fellow rookie quarterback - and Rookie of the Year front-runner - Cam Newton.
It helps that Dalton has future superstar A.J. Green to throw to - a guy who made a huge impact against Pittsburgh in Week 10 before hyperextending his knee and missing the rest of the game. He's another Rookie of the Year candidate.
Much of that praise can be attributed to Roethlisberger being nice in front of the media. It certainly doesn't help anything by pointing out Dalton has thrown four touchdowns to five interceptions in his last three games (1-2) and has a completion percentage of 55 in that time. He has a passer rating of 63.9 in the second quarter of his 11 starts. It's probably not a coincidence that the Bengals play their worst as a team in the second quarter.
Clearly, though, the sum of their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. The fact is, they're 7-4 for a reason, and no lead is safe against them. But, If anything, Dalton's fast start has faded to a crawl, from a statistical standpoint. If the Bengals are going to keep pace with the Steelers and the Ravens - as well as the rest of the AFC wildcard hopefuls - they're going to need to get more consistency through four quarters from Dalton.