Bengals haven’t allowed a sack in 3 games
Andy Dalton has barely been touched in the last three games. The
Bengals have won all three. There’s a direct correlation that’s
going to be in the front of their minds on Sunday night in
Pittsburgh as Cincinnati closes in on the AFC North title.
When Dalton can stay upright, things usually work out all
The Bengals (9-4) haven’t allowed a sack in any of the last
three games, matching their franchise record for protecting the
quarterback. They also went three games without a sack in 1977,
2007 and 2010, according to STATS LLC.
And they’ve done it with an offensive line that’s been
repeatedly reconfigured because of injuries.
”A lot of sacks sometimes just come down to the way things work
out,” said Andrew Whitworth, a Pro Bowl left tackle who moved to
guard during the three-game stretch. ”But it’s been really good
and we just have to continue to have that as an emphasis and give
space to the quarterback and run the ball effectively.”
The Bengals can win the AFC North title if they beat the
Steelers on Sunday night in Pittsburgh and Baltimore loses on
Monday night in Detroit. Keeping Dalton safe is one of the
priorities, and they’ve had success at it in the past.
Dalton has faced the Steelers five times during his career. He
avoided a sack in three of the games, including a 20-10 victory at
Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night in the second week of this
season. He was sacked three times in another game and tied his
career high by taking six sacks during a 13-10 win in Pittsburgh
”I think any quarterback throws the ball better when there’s
not a lot of people around him,” Dalton said. ”I think it starts
up front with those guys. Even though we’ve been shuffling them
around, they have played well.”
In the last three games, the line has been in flux.
Left guard Clint Boling suffered a season-ending knee injury two
weeks ago, prompting the Bengals to move Whitworth – a 2012 Pro
Bowl tackle – to the guard spot. Tackle Anthony Collins took
Whitworth’s spot. Right guard Kevin Zeitler has missed all three
games with an injured right foot, but is expected to be back in
Heading into this week’s games, the Bengals had allowed 26
sacks, tied with New Orleans for fifth-fewest in the NFL. Denver
and Detroit had allowed a league-low 15. Miami has given up 48.
Dalton has helped by getting rid of the ball rather than taking
a sack. He was sacked 10 times during back-to-back losses to Miami
and Baltimore in October and November. He’s gotten better and
getting rid of it the last three games.
”I have to make quick decisions to get the ball to our guys,”
Dalton said. ”When we do that, we’ve been successful.”
They’ve also helped Dalton by running the ball well in the last
two games, picking up 164 yards in a win over San Diego and 155
yards last Sunday in a 42-28 win over the Colts. The Bengals threw
the ball 35 times and ran it 35 times in that one, allowing them to
pick their spots to pass.
”When you’re just throwing it over and over again, teams start
to bring more and more pressure and just tee off on you,”
Whitworth said. ”We’re creating that scenario where it’s hard (for
defenses) to know which one you want to do.
”Even though people say throwing is the new generation, running
the football will always been the hammer in the sense that it can
eliminate many defensive game plans. If you can stop the run,
you’re going to be a good defense. And if you can’t, you never will
be a good defense.”
Dalton has thrown 92 passes since the last time he was sacked.
The streak represents the first time during his three-year career
in the NFL that he’s gone more than one game without a sack.
”I don’t think I ever got sacked in high school,” he said.
”Not too many times in college. Just a little different.”
Notes: LB James Harrison, LB Vontaze Burfict and RB BenJarvus
Green-Ellis were listed as probable for the game. They missed
Thursday’s practice with an illness. … CB Terence Newman is the
only one deemed out. He hurt his left knee last Sunday and wore a
brace all week. … Zeitler also was listed as probable.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org