LAKE FOREST – When the team was on the schedule, there is a good chance that he saw it, and maybe even circled it on his calendar.
That’s because a lot of the story of Andy Dalton’s career was written while he was with the team that he’ll face on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field as a member of the Bears.
Drafted by the Bengals in 2010, the quarterback spent nine seasons in Cincinnati and helped the team to five playoff appearances. But with the team going in another direction, Dalton was let go as the franchise selected Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
So facing the Bengals on Sunday will be significant since he was released was under two years ago, but there’s one thing that makes this potential “revenge game” a bit different: It’s already happened once.
“I got a chance to go up against them last year in Cincinnati,” said Dalton, and initially it was supposed to be as the backup with the Cowboys.
But when Dak Prescott was injured, it was Dalton who led Dallas into Paul Brown Stadium for the Week 13 game against the Bengals. He’d go 16-of-23 for 185 yards passing and two touchdowns in a 30-7 win over Cincinnati, who was without Burrow, Dalton’s replacement, after he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“It was cool for me, though, because they received me well,” said Dalton of the game, which did have limited attendance as the COVID-19 pandemic continued. “My wife and I, we poured a lot into the city and into the community and to that organization and everything. I was well received.”
Because of that, a match-up against the Bengals may not have the electricity it did just a year ago for the quarterback as he faces them at Soldier Field. While a popular topic of conversation around Dalton this week, it’s not quite on the top of his mind as it was a year ago.
“It obviously felt a lot different being there as the away team rather than the home team, being in a different locker room and all that kinda stuff,” said Dalton. “Luckily I kinda got that out of the way last year and now I’m just focused on doing what we can to win the game.”
So no extra motivation at all facing the Bengals?
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Dalton when asked that question at his news conference Wednesday. “I got to go up against them last year too, which was nice.”