Bengals' Dalton earns Big Ben's nod for rookie of the year

  • By Marc Sessler
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When Ben Roethlisberger surveys the Cincinnati Bengals, it's clear the slow-motion train wreck of seasons past has been cleared off the tracks.

With rookie Andy Dalton at the helm, the 7-4 Bengals march into Pittsburgh on Sunday just a game behind the Steelers and Ravens in the AFC North. And if Big Ben had a say, Dalton would be recognized for the turnaround.

"Right now I think, and I don't know how the talk is, but he's rookie of the year," Roethlisberger told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. "I think he's that good of a quarterback."

Etched in Big Ben's mind is Dalton's Week 10 performance against the Steelers, when the young man brought the Bengals back from 14-0 to tie the game 17-17. The Steelers won that day, but Dalton's floated on Big Ben's radar ever since.

"He does (things) that you just don't see or expect from rookie quarterbacks," Roethlisberger said. "In college you can wait for guys to get open and throw it, (but) he throws it before guys are coming out of their breaks, before guys are getting into their holes, as he's getting pressured."

One problem for our ginger-topped friend when it comes to winning rookie ribbons: Cam Newton has, at times, resembled a giant among hobby horses down in Carolina. 

Through the air, Dalton and Newton are close:

» Dalton's completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 2,509 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 picks for a 81.8 passer rating. 

» Newton's completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,093 yards, with 12 scores and 14 picks for a rating of 81.1. 

The staggering advantage for Newton remains his outrageous footwork, rumbling for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns (second only to Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy, both with 11). 

Dalton's run for 81 yards.

Still, Newton's Panthers are mired at 3-8, which might serve as the difference here among voting members of the press, because Dalton's done what few expected in turning Cincy into a winner.