Andy Dalton returned to Cincinnati and earned his new team a win.
After the Dallas Cowboys scored a 30-7 victory, their first win by more than three points this season, Dalton celebrated the win in a city where he'd spent his first nine NFL seasons.
"I got water thrown on me and everything (in the locker room). Everybody was excited," Dalton said, via the team's official website. "(Coach) Mike (McCarthy) and a lot of the guys made it a big deal. It feels good to come back to a place that I was for a long time and to win."
The Cowboys jumped out to a 17-0 lead midway through the first half and never relented against the hapless Bengals.
Dalton didn't need to do much but shepherd the offense, attempting just 23 passes, completing 16 for 185 yards and two touchdown passes. He earned a season-high 122.6 passer rating and his first game with multiple passing TDs and zero INTs this season.
Sunday marked Dalton's first game in Cincinnati since Week 17, 2019 against the Browns. A Bengals second-round pick in 2011, Dalton earned a 70-61-2 record as a starting QB for Cincy, the second-most wins all-time for the franchise behind Ken Anderson (91). Dalton is also the Bengals' all-time leader in pass TDs (204).
"This is definitely special for him. Make no bones about it, he wanted to win this game. More importantly, everybody in this locker room wanted to win it for him," McCarthy said. "If you can have seen the reaction when he came into the locker room after the game, I think it speaks volumes about the men in the locker room and with this win, it means for us for as a team because of where we are in our season but how important it was to get that win for Andy."
The Cowboys' victory Sunday got them to just four wins on the season, but at least keeps them in the NFC East race with three games left.
"One of the coolest things was the sign that was up there (in the stadium) that said, 'Thank you Andy and JJ for changing lives,'" Dalton said. "That's what we tried to do while we were here and use our platform for good and show God's love to a lot of people. I felt like that was a great reception to come back and feel that today.
"This one was special. Obviously, it's a team that I played at for a long time. You want to do everything you can to win, and I thought our team played really well."