Dalton hopes Sunday milestones become touchstones

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Andy Dalton, who is staring at two significant milestones for an NFL quarterback Sunday against the Colts (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium when he starts his 100th game on his 30th birthday, wants only one thing for his big three oh.

"A win," he said after Thursday's practice. "That would be pretty special.

"I knew it was my birthday, obviously, but I didn't know it was the 100th start. That's kind of fun to fall on the same day."

Of course, this has not been a fun season. On pace to get sacked 51 times, his running game averaging 3.2 yards per carry, his Pro Bowl tight end shelved for the season and three wide receivers with no catches, you know the numbers aren't going to be good and they're not.

Dalton is 22nd in the league in passer rating, his eight interceptions are as many as he had all of last year, and he's tied for dead in the NFL middle with just nine touchdown passes heading into Sunday with just two victories.

And he knows that's the ultimate number for a quarterback.

"Wins," Dalton said. "They don't care how they look or how you get them."

He's won more than any Bengals quarterback and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, ranks eighth among active quarterbacks with victories before their 30th birthdays as well their 100th starts. Except for Russell Wilson he's the youngest on both lists:

MOST WINS PRIOR TO TURNING 30 YEARS OLD /ACTIVE QBS: Ben Roethlisberger 80, Joe Flacco 72, Tom Brady 70, Matt Ryan 66, Philip Rivers 60, Russell Wilson 60, Eli Manning 60, Andy Dalton 58.

MOST WINS PRIOR TO 100TH START/ACTIVE QBS: Tom Brady (76), Ben Roethlisberger (70), Aaron Rodgers (68), Philip Rivers (66), Joe Flacco (65), Matt Ryan (62), Eli Manning (59), Andy Dalton (58).

"I don't know.  How are you supposed to feel like when you're 30?" Dalton asked. "I feel like I'm in a good place. I know when I was 20, I felt like 30 was a long way away. I feel like when you're 30, you're established and you know what you want in life."

Dalton has known that for a long time and it came together Thursday night at PBS. Football. Family. Faith.  He and his wife JJ hosted a fundraiser for their foundation in a new venue with their familiar passion for raising money for families with children facing special needs and medical challenges.

"It's a little bit different. A little more laid back and fun," said Dalton, who usually hosts such events in a hotel ballroom or a restaurant. "More families are involved. People get to go on the field and see what's behind the scenes."

So he's still got enough pull to reserve the stadium and why not?  He's only the third Bengals quarterback to start at least 100 games. And, yes, by the time he was 30, Ken Anderson had won 55 games and two NFL passing titles. And by the time Boomer Esiason was 30 he had won 51 games and the NFL MVP. But Dalton also has his own spurs with 58 wins and five post-season berths, one more than Anderson and Esiason had combined before they were 30.

Dalton needs four more TD passes to pass Carson Palmer for third on the Bengals' all-time list before he sets his sights on Anderson's 197 and Esiason's 187. Palmer ended up throwing 160 TDs before he was 30, just ahead of Dalton and Drew Brees on the Elias active list:

MOST TD PASSES BEFORE 100TH START: Aaron Rodgers 222; Matthew Stafford 178, Philip Rivers 168, Tom Brady 168, Matt Ryan 165, Carson Palmer 160, Drew Brees 151, Andy Dalton 151

MOST TD PASSES BEFORE 30th BIRTHDAY: Matthew Stafford 199; Aaron Rodgers 186, Matt Ryan 181, Drew Brees 168, Ben Roethlisberger 165, Eli Manning 156, Philip Rivers 155, Andy Dalton 151

As the triggerman for head coach Marvin Lewis' youngest team, Dalton can think back to that rookie year of 2011 when it was Lewis' second youngest team and now he's wiser.

"There's a lot of season left. There are plenty of games left," said Dalton, still seeking that first post-season victory. "We're a young team. It's good to have youth on your team. We've got guys with talent. But our focus is getting a win this week. We've got three on the road, so this one is important."

But first things first after what he hopes is that win. There is that 30th birthday to observe.

"I don't know yet,' said Dalton with a smile of how he plans to celebrate. "JJ hasn't told me yet."

Bengals.com features cheerleader of the week , Kristen.

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