A lot of folks are going to want to wait and see what happens in the playoffs before declaring that Andy Dalton and the Bengals are done being the Bungles.
Certainly seems fair, given Cincinnati’s recent history: The team hasn’t won a postseason game since the 1990 season, when its current QB was 3 years old.
Still, give Dalton and his club this: After scoring the last 20 points to come back and beat the two-time reigning NFC champion Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime Sunday, the Bengals (5-0) are gaining believers.
“We righted ourselves,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said, “and started putting one play on top of another.”
Dalton threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. He also got picked off once, though, and that big deficit against Seattle was telling. The big knock on Dalton is that he produces in the regular season — just not when it matters more. He is 0-4 in the playoffs, with one touchdown and six interceptions in those games.
There’s a long way to go until Dalton will need to confront those demons.
The Bengals are not the only NFL team with a perfect record so far that hasn’t put on perfect performances.
Atlanta is also 5-0, and also was pushed to overtime on Sunday, except not against Seattle but by a flawed Washington club, before winning 25-19. The Falcons are the first NFL team to open with five wins that include four after trailing in the fourth quarter.
Denver is a shaky 5-0, too — and that record is despite Peyton Manning, not because of him. He threw two picks Sunday, has more interceptions (seven) than touchdown tosses (six) through five games for the first time since his rookie season, and the Broncos’ offense failed to produce a touchdown for the second time in five games yet pulled out a 16-10 win at Oakland.
Even Aaron Rodgers had his problems, throwing his first two interceptions of the season, and his first two interceptions at home since 2012, as Green Bay got to 5-0 with a 24-10 victory over St. Louis.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots just keep on keepin’ on: They’re 4-0 after easily defeating Dallas 30-6.
Next Sunday, if New England can win at Indianapolis (hmmm, think they’ll check the footballs’ air pressure?), and Carolina (4-0 with a bye this week) can win at Seattle, this would be the first season in NFL history with six teams starting 5-0.
In case you missed it, here are other top topics after the NFL’s fifth regular-season Sunday:
HE DID WHAT?!: One of the wildest catches of this, or any, season was made by Cleveland tight end Gary Barnidge in the fourth quarter of a 33-30 victory at Baltimore. He somehow corralled the ball with his legs while on the ground. Sounds hard to believe, right? Go see it for yourself on NFL.com here: http://bit.ly/1G7YWlH
AGELESS: Both of Manning’s picks were by Charles Woodson, who turned 39 last week and became the oldest player in NFL history with two interceptions in a game. He’s hardly the only old guy looking good: Matt Hasselbeck, 40, led the Colts to a win Thursday night; Brady, 38, has 11 TD passes and zero picks this season.
BENCHED: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford’s third interception of the day got him yanked from a 42-17 loss to Arizona that dropped the Lions to 0-5. Backup Dan Orlovsky came in, but coach Jim Caldwell made it clear he’ll stick with Stafford as the starter against Chicago next week, saying: “There is no quarterback controversy or anything of that nature.” Less clear is the situation in Dallas, which is 0-3 with Brandon Weeden playing in place of the injured Tony Romo. The Cowboys have a bye now, and coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out the possibility of switching to Matt Cassel.
GIANTS ON A ROLL: Sure, it was a narrow victory over a bad team, but the Giants’ 30-27 escape against the 49ers at night gave New York a three-game winning streak after an 0-2 start and sole possession of first place in the mediocre NFC East.
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich. Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/AP_NFL