Notes: Now you 'C' Dalton and Maualuga

Rey Maualuga

Updated: 4:50 p.m.

It can take equipment managers Jeff Brickner and Adam Knollman about an hour to get it done.

It takes about 20 minutes to get from Paul Brown Stadium to Sportsco in Evendale, Ohio. That's where Denise the seamstress can sew the "C" on the front of jerseys like No. 14 and No. 58. Then it's about another 20 minutes back to the equipment room.

But it took a lot longer for head coach Marvin Lewis to decide for the first time since the end of the 2010 season to break out the "C," sports' universal symbol for captain. Denise sewed the "C" Thursday, but quarterback Andy Dalton and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga didn't know they had the "C"s until they showed up Sunday morning to get dressed for what turned out to be the 34-10 victory over Oakland.

"To get that "C" on my jersey is unbelievable," Maualuga said. "I came here, saw that "C" and was at a loss for words."

It was Maualuga who saw it first on his jersey and told Dalton.

"They've been my captains for the last four games," head coach Marvin Lewis said on Monday. "We decided to go ahead and put the "C"s on the jerseys."

Without saying much, Lewis said everything. He has waited more than a year to anoint captains in the Extreme Makeover that took place from 2010 to 2011. The last guys to wear the "C"s were the 2010 captains: Carson Palmer and Bobbie Williams, for the offense, Domata Peko and Dhani Jones for the defense, and Brandon Johnson for special teams.

Only Peko is left and as Lewis decided to go with game captains for his new and young team all of last year and this year, Peko and left tackle Andrew Whitworth made frequent appearances. But Lewis was looking for something from his young guns and when he wanted more, he sounded the challenge to Dalton and Maualuga four weeks ago during the bye.

Think it worked? Dalton and Maualuga have been game captains in the four games since and the Bengals are riding a three-game winning streak in which Dalton has thrown nine TD passes and no interceptions while Maualuga has played virtually every snap for a defense that has allowed just two touchdowns and is in the top 10 for the first time this season at No. 9.

"It means a lot and it shows that we're going to be the guys for the rest of this thing," Dalton said of this season.

Maualuga and Dalton are both uncomfortable with the notion that the challenge has improved their play. But they also can see what the team has done in its wake.

"The challenge was made for really everybody," Dalton said. "We needed to pick it up and play better and we've been doing that."

But both are honored.

"(Lewis) has already put it on me and Andy the last couple of weeks, but to see it on my jersey means a great deal to me," Maualuga said. "It's almost like a dream come true."

Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden agrees that it was a team-wide challenge. But he saw Dalton respond.

"I think Andy is always going to be Andy. He's going to lead by example. He's a very competitive guy, but he's not a very vocal guy. He's not the type of guy that's going to yell at people for screwing up," Gruden said. "He is going to try to correct the guys. I just think his sense of urgency has picked up a little bit where he knows he's got to play better. He knew he had to play better in order for us to win. He's picked up his game considerably and I think everybody was challenged during the bye week.

"You lose three games in a row with the talent I think we have here offensively and defensively and it stings. People have to do some things differently. Work a little harder. Focus a little more in the meeting room and practice harder and things will change and they have so far. But we still have a ways to go. We dug ourselves into a great hole. We're still digging ourselves out, so we don't have a real margin for error. We have to keep going."

While Maualuga says he was never a captain in high school or at USC, Dalton says he was a three-year captain at TCU as well as a high school captain.

But he never wore a "C" until Sunday, when he played against one of the last Bengals to wear the "C." Score one for Lewis.

"I like it," Dalton said. "I like that it kind of establishes the guys and putting it on the uni."


» At his Monday news conference Lewis said he didn't think left tackle Andrew Whitworth is going to be suspended after he got ejected from Sunday's 34-10 victory over the Raiders. But while his locker room supported Whitworth challenging Oakland defensive end Lamarr Houston after Houston threw down Dalton despite a stop in play, Lewis did what a head coach has to do and said he wouldn't condone it and said his team has to avoid those situations.

» With Sunday's three touchdown passes, Dalton passed last year's rookie total of 20 and is now in some heady company. His 23 TDs are fifth in the NFL to Drew Brees's 31, Aaron Rodgers's 28, Peyton Manning's 26 and Tom Brady's 24.

» Wide receiver A.J. Green is headed back to the Pro Bowl; it's just a matter if he'll take the Bengals single-season yardage record with him. His 1,022 yards are fourth in the NFL (behind Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson) and 36 yards away from bettering his rookie total. As he bids to become the first Bengals 1,500-yard receiver, he's on pace for 1,487 yards, 47 more than Chad Johnson's 2007 club record.

» According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when Cincinnati's Mike Nugent and Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski each hit 55-yard field goals Sunday, it was only the third time it happened in the same game. In 2010, Nick Folk of the Jets and Matt Prater of the Broncos did it, and last year Prater and Robbie Gould did it in a Broncos-Bears game. 

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