With Palmer's fleeing west to find himself, the rookie Dalton has stepped right in, embracing a Bengals team nobody seemed to want -- no quarterback at least.
What they had at first blush was a mystery, but behind Dalton's steady hand, Cincy is 6-2 and the fans are on alert. The town believes they have a legitimate shot against the Steelers on Sunday, largely because of Dalton, who was affectionately mobbed at a Paul Brown Stadium autograph session this week.
"To drive up and the see the whole lot filled -- everybody's excited," Dalton told the team's official site. "Especially this week because we're playing Pittsburgh."
Nicknames are rolling in for the fiery-haired passer ("The Red Rifle" and "The Glowing Ginger Man" among the bunch), and while he looks more like your Dungeons & Dragons-playing neighbor than an NFL quarterback, Cincy's long-suffering fan base has found its man.