You just don't see Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton show that kind of emotion. But then again, have you ever seen Dalton play like this adter Sunday's 36-21 victory over the Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium?
Eight minutes left in a game the Bengals have done everything but put the Chiefs away. They lead, 29-18. Third-and-four from the Bengals 46. Dalton drops back, no one is open, running back Giovani Bernard picks up yet another blitz and Dalton steps up, slithering up the middle for eight yards.
He gets up with wide smile and arm outstretched while saying, "First down."
"It just felt the right time," Dalton said.
And why not? He continues to be the hottest quarterback this side of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers with an explosive effort that saw him complete two balls of at least 50 yards, seven of at least 20, and a pass of at least 27 yards to five receivers. His passer rating for the season is 123, which would shatter the Bengals record held by Carson Palmer, and his 10.2 yards per attempt would dwarf Greg Cook's 45-year-old club record by more than a yard.
"Andy is playing out of his mind," said wide receiver A.J. Green. . .
So did left tackle Andrew Whitworth (Tamba Hali) and right tackle Andre Smith (Justin Houston). They blanked the prolific sack tandem as Smith put the skids on Houston coming in here with 46 sacks in 46 games.
"You just have to keep fighting. That's really all it is," Smith said. . . .
Meanwhile, the Bengals defensive line came up with five sacks for the first time since Nov. 10, 2013, a stretch of 25 games. . .
"We knew Alex Smith panics like any other quarterback who gets pressure," said nose tackle Domata Peko. "He looks at the rush, not like other quarterbacks that look to throw the ball. He's looking at the rush to try and get away because he's quicker."
Peko, a ten-year veteran, waited 127 games for the second two-sack game of his career, the first one coming on Christmas Eve in Denver in his rookie year of 2006. He taught rookie center Mitch Morse a lesson in more ways than one, and Peko picked up a rare unnecessary roughness call in helping teach it.
"My son is almost the same age as him," said the 30-year-old Peko with a straight face. "He was doing some extra stuff. it's not a big deal. I talked to him after. During the heat of the moment I was just telling him it's a grown man's game." . . .
Here's how Peko explained his belly rub sack dance, a pure run stuffer not often called upon to make such plays with 13.5 sacks in the previous 142 games.
"I'm like Fat Boy. I'm a fat guy, 300 pounds, 325 pounds,' he said. "I'm hungry. I'm just telling them I'm eating and my stomach is getting full making plays. Big 300-pounder moving around." . . .
The Bengals lost cornerback Adam Jones (groin, elbow) early in the third quarter and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick played with an injured right wrist. But early indications anyone who got hurt Sunday should be OK for next Sunday against Seattle at PBS . . .
Running back Jeremy Hill wore his No. 24 Kobe Bryant jersey to the stadium Sunday for inspiration. Bryant is not only Hill's favorite player, but he also named his daughter after the Lakers star. The karma came through. Hill became the first Bengal with three rushing TDs since Kenny Watson on Oct. 21, 2007 in a PBS win over the Jets.
Wide receiver Brandon Tate made his first snap of the season in the middle of the third quarter really count. After wide receiver Marvin Jones let a TD bomb bounce off his shoulder pad on the Chiefs 5, and then commit a false start, Tate gave Jones a breather and took the air away from the Chiefs.
As Dalton scrambled to his right, Tate ran past rookie cornerback Marcus Peters after double-moving him down the right sideline. Then he made a diving catch at the 8 and when no one touched him he scrambled to his feet to finish off his longest catch of seven NFL seasons for a 55-yarder and his first TD in 14 games and 51 weeks since he caught one against Carolina last year at PBS on Oct. 12, 2014.
"I'm glad it was Tate. I'm going to get plenty of opportunities," Jones said. "That was great to see."
Jones has made wondrous catches the last two weeks, when he has also scored two touchdowns, and he looked like he had another big play in his sights.
"I was digging. I had my head down," Jones said. "Usually I try to jump up and get it and use my body, but it went it off my shoulder pad."
Jones said offensive coordinator Hue Jackson told him simply, "You're all right," and he went out for the next series. . . .
Sunday marked the first time a kicker had hit seven field goals against the Bengals after a total of eight had kicked five down through the years. The latest was the Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski, who did it 364 days ago in New England . . .