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Senior NFL Columnist

Monday Musings: Bengals QB Andy Dalton silencing some critics

We sit on our green room every Sunday as we ready for our weekly halftime shows here at CBSSports.com, a bank of television sets in front of us showing all the games. And each week as we watch, dissecting it all, there is always a chorus of the same, old song coming from some in that room.

Andy Dalton isn't good.

Dalton showed Sunday against the Detroit Lions that he is capable of putting the Bengals offense on his right arm and winning. All he needs is the freedom.

Dalton was 24 of 34 for 372 yards and threw three touchdown passes for the second consecutive game to lead the Bengals to a 27-24 victory, which came on the final play of the game when Mike Nugent nailed a 54-yard field goal.

That winning score was set up by two completions by Dalton. Early this season, I thought the Bengals played it way too conservatively on offense. despite all their weapons. I put that at the feet of coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

The past two weeks, both road victories, it appears they've wised up and realized to be a real Super threat they have to let Dalton throw on early downs and spread teams out.

The Bengals play host to the Jets next week and their good defense. If they Bengals revert to their old ways, playing power football, then they will be in trouble.

Dalton can get it done. Let him do it.

He's plenty good enough -- even some of those doubters in our green room are beginning to believe it.

Now for the rest of my Monday Musings:

That was a really bad play by Philip Rivers at the end of the first half to miss put on a scoring opportunity against the Jaguars. Rivers has to throw that ball away. He knows better. But having said that, Rivers is playing at a high level. I love watching him play and he was 22-of-26 for 285 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars. The Chargers head to they bye at 4-3 and factor in the AFC playoff race. Why? Rivers, Rivers and more Rivers. Give the man his due.

When the officials called Patriots rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones for unsportsmanlike conduct on a missed field goal when he pushed a teammate from behind, it looked to be a questionable call. Folk missed the field goal and it appeared the Patriots would get the ball. But the Jets got 15 yards, a first down, and Folk won it with a 42-yard field goal in overtime. The rule was put in this year to help protect players in the line during kicks. Did it need to be called there, on a potential game-winner. Memo to officials: Let them play and you don't decide games.

• The Patriots clearly missed Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo against the Jets in their overtime loss. The Jets ran 52 times for 177 yards. That's demoralizing to a team. The Patriots could have a season-long problem stopping the run.

• Both Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III got back to their running ways this week. Is that a good thing? It helps the offense. They both made big plays, but I saw RGIII come up limping after one run. It just isn't worth it.

• Remember all that hyperbole that Marc Trestman threw around when describing Tim Tebow when he was paid to work with him? That's why you don't believe anything paid coaches or consultants say about their players. If he was so good, why haven't the Bears signed him? Why won't they sign him to help fill the void if Jay Cutler is down for a while? Why? Trestman doesn't like him that much. Who does?

• The Bucs traded a first-round pick and more to get corner Darrelle Revis and then paid him a big-money deal. They signed Dashon Goldson as a free agent from San Francisco and they drafted Mark Barron in the first round in 2012 and Johnthan Banks in the second round this year. So why does the secondary stink? I think it has something to do with scheme -- Revis isn't that comfortable playing zone -- and they have little in terms of outside pass rush. But the secondary isn't playing very well. The Falcons lit them up Sunday. They made Harry Douglas look like Julio Jones. He caught seven passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Matt Ryan has 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions for the season playing with a bad line and with his weapons being limited for most of the season. He is playing at a high level, and few are noticing.

• When Panthers safety Mike Mitchell's push sent Sam Bradford to the ground as he went to the sideline, it led to Bradford's leg catching awkwardly in the ground and tearing his ACL. Mitchell spread his arms wide and posed and Bradford rolled on the ground. Classless. It led to Rams guard Harvey Dahl, one of the nastiest players in the league, to got after Mitchell. It became worse when Dahl realized Bradford was hurt. Was it a dirty hit? No. Was it needed? No. But the taunting part of it was over the top.

•I feel bad for Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. He tore his ACL last year, rehabbed it to get back, then broke a leg and suffered a torn PCL against the Chiefs. The good news is that Cushing did get a new long-term contract this summer.

Mike Glennon likes Vincent Jackson. He targeted Jackson 22 times against the Falcons. He did catch 10 for 138 yards and a touchdown, but that's too many.

•I liked what I saw from Case Keenum for the Texans. He threw the ball down the field and, aside from the final play in which he was sacked and lost a fumble, he seemed to have a good pocket presence. The Texans might have a tough decision moving forward. He had a passer rating of 110.6, higher than any Matt Schaub has had this season.

•Did anybody see Ed Reed whiff on a key third-and-21 conversion for the Chiefs? It was a big play to the Chiefs' last field goal. Reed had a great angle on Dexter McCluster on a screen pass, but he took a bad angle and couldn't get him down short of the marker.

•The Chicago Bears defense is horrible. If Jay Cutler is out for any length of time, this team is done. When he went down in other years, the defense could carry the team. This unit can't.

•So Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather was reportedly soliciting teammates for fine money after getting flagged twice for illegal hits? So much for players taking player safety seriously. Brandon Marshall came out and said he should be suspended.

•Speaking of fines, Patriots corner Logan Ryan will hear from the league for his crotch-grabbing celebration as he scored on an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown. That was a bit much.

•Game ball to Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. His unit held the Eagles to three points without DeMarcus Ware. That's impressive.

•Speaking of the Eagles offense, does anybody still think Nick Foles should start if Mike Vick is healthy? Didn't think so.

•The talk that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and coach Charlie Strong could be a package deal in the NFL is absurd. Bridgewater has to be drafted and cant' just pick a team, even if that team hired Strong. Now if the team that hires Strong has the first pick, that's another story. But that team could only be Tampa Bay. Jacksonville isn't going to fire first-year coach Gus Bradley and the Giants won't pick a quarterback with Eli Manning if they have the first pick. I can't imagine Tampa Bay hiring another college coach after this Greg Schiano fiasco either.

•The Cowboys are said to be considering trading for a running back. Why?

•I feel bad for Reggie Wayne. If he has a torn ACL, which it looks like, his career could be done. What a class act. Canton is waiting.

 
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