CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton has never been so confident. It shows when it matters most.
Dalton led the unbeaten Bengals to one of the greatest comebacks in their history on Sunday, overcoming a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 27-24 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in overtime.
The fifth-year quarterback is growing up a little more each week, and it shows in his demeanor. He’s never felt this good.
“Absolutely,” said Dalton, who leads the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating. “Every year that you play and every game that you play, and when you win like this it adds to your confidence. I feel really good about this team and where we are.”
The Bengals (5-0) are off to their best start since 1988, the last time they went to the Super Bowl.
Trailing 24-7 as the fourth quarter began, Dalton threw for one touchdown, ran for another and led Cincinnati on a 69-yard drive with no timeouts to set up Mike Nugent’s tying 31-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.
Nugent’s 42-yarder with 3:36 left in overtime hit the left upright and went through, completing a comeback that matched the second-biggest in team history.
“Being able to overcome what we did against that kind of talent is a heck of a message,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said.
The Seahawks (2-3) matched the biggest collapse in their history, the third time they’ve blown a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. The NFL’s second-ranked defense couldn’t stop Dalton, who went 13 of 15 for 135 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Seattle has reached back-to-back Super Bowls by finishing teams off. Now, they’re on the other end of it.
“That’s why I’m baffled a little bit,” coach Pete Carroll said. “What’s startling is that it’s not happening. We’ve had to be terrific in this mode for years to be able to do what we’ve done.”
Five things to take away from Paul Brown Stadium:
OH THAT COMEBACK … AND COLLAPSE: It was the second time Cincinnati overcame a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter and won, according to STATS. The Bengals also did it at Baltimore in 2004. Cincinnati overcame an 18-point deficit to beat Arizona 24-21 in the 1997 season. … The Seahawks also blew 17-point leads in 2003 against Baltimore and 2004 against St. Louis, losing in overtime as well.
DALTON SHINES AGAIN: The AFC’s top-ranked passer finished 30 of 44 for 331 yards with two touchdowns, one interception — only his second of the season — and four sacks. His overall passer rating is 115.6. He was nearly flawless when he had to be.
“Andy’s had that poise,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “The other guys have raised their level around him. So when things don’t quite go their way, they are mentally tough enough (to) let Andy do his thing.”
BEST BENGALS STARTS: The Bengals are one win shy of matching the best start in club history. They went 6-0 in 1975 and 1988. Cincinnati plays at Buffalo next week, then has its bye.
SEATTLE RUNS IT: Running back Marshawn Lynch missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury. Undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls took over and ran for a career-high 169 yards, including a 69-yard TD in the third quarter that helped the Seahawks build the big lead.
“Rawls was lights-out today,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “It’s not a surprise. He’s a physical guy.”
NOW WHAT?: The Seahawks were in position to get their second win in six days, coming off a 13-10 Monday night victory over Detroit. Now they’re 2-3 and still trying to fix an offense that gives up a lot of sacks — Wilson was dropped four more times — and has been erratic. One consolation: They opened last season 3-3 and went to the Super Bowl, where they lost to New England.
“We’re not dead and gone,” Carroll said. “We don’t feel like that at all.”
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