Dec 13, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Can Andy Dalton Lead Bengals Through Final Stretch?

Andy Dalton has been inconsistent throughout the season in the passing game. That issue was never more blaring than in the win on the road on Thursday night. The Bengals quarterback missed 14 of his passes and passed up several other opportunities when he hesitated to get rid of the ball quickly.

Now that the team is in a stretch of must-win scenarios, will he be able to pull it together and lead this team back to the playoffs? Looking back at the Bengals’ 2012 season, the quarterback has had games where he completed almost 70% of his passes, only to follow it up the next week with a 50% completion rate. Thursday night in Philadelphia was his lowest percentage of the year at 48.1%.

Against the Steelers earlier this year, Dalton missed 14 of his 28 passes and only threw for 105 yards. The week before, in the loss to Cleveland, the second year quarterback posted 381 yards and three touchdowns, only missing 15 of his 46 passes.

Now with the Steelers and Ravens looming again, and playoff hopes on the line, Dalton’s arm and decision making will be a scrutinized in every play. Last year, he showed that he could handle the pressure. But the Bengals backed into the playoffs after losing their last game of the season against the Ravens. He then went on to throw three interceptions in the loss to the Texans, in the Wild Card round.

Dalton has had a great year, completing 63.4 percent of his passes overall for 3186 yards and 25 touchdowns. With his inconsistency issues, though, is he clutch enough to carry the orange and black to consecutive playoff berths? Only time will tell, but all eyes will be on Andy Dalton.

Tags: Andy Dalton Bengals Cincinnati Cincinnati Bengals NFL

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