Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/3/11
The numbers aren't pretty - 18th in passer rating (82.7) and 21st in passing yards (1,479) - but there are two other numbers that mean more to Andy Dalton and the Bengals - 5-2 on the season and 4-0 in October.In assessing why Cincinnati became the first team since Carolina in 2005 to go from a winless October to an unbeaten one, one of the foundations for that has been the play of the Bengals rookie quarterback.Last year, all four of the Bengals' October losses were by eight points or less with key breakdowns in the fourth quarter. This season, Dalton has led a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks against Buffalo and Jacksonville and had a key drive last week at Seattle that led to a Mike Nugent field goal to push the lead to eight."Unbelievable," wide receiver A.J. Green said of Dalton. "Poise, passion, leadership ... it's a special one we've got here. He's a natural leader. Never acts discouraged. Always tells us we're gonna find a way."Even officials are noticing what Dalton has brought to the Bengals. Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said after the win over Seattle that referee Tony Corrente approached him and nodded toward Dalton."He's pretty special, isn't he?" Corrente said to Whitworth."(Corrente) could see Andy's attitude," Whitworth went on. "How he was having fun and enjoying it. He's amazing. He did everything he had to for us to win the game, and that's a place (Seattle's CenturyLink Field) that is as loud as it gets."Besides leadership, there are other facets of Dalton's game that have improved. He is making plays with his feet and moving around more in the pocket to buy time for his receivers, something that he did very well last week against the Seahawks.He also hasn't made the killer turnover. He did throw a pair of second-half interceptions against the Seahawks but those were his first second-half turnovers since the Week 3 loss to San Francisco.During last year's winless October, Carson Palmer had key turnovers in three of the losses including a pair of interceptions in the final three minutes against Tampa Bay, when the Bucs scored 10 unanswered points, and a pick when the Bengals were trying to drive for a late score against Miami.The Bengals are tied with the Ravens for second in the AFC North, but have faced only one team with a winning record in October. They now face three straight with winning records.Starting with Sunday's game against the 4-3 Titans and with the Steelers (6-3), Ravens and Browns (3-4) looming later in the month the combined record is 18-11."We just have to keep going. It's now Tennessee. We have to strap it on, load up and put in gear and get ready," coach Marvin Lewis said.SERIES HISTORY: 72nd regular-season meeting. Titans lead series, 39-31-1. Tennessee is 5-2 at home since relocating from Tennessee. The Titans are the third-most played opponent in Bengals history with Pittsburgh (82) and Cleveland (76) having been played more. The two teams used to meet twice a year from 1970-2001 when they were both in the AFC Central.NOTES, QUOTES--A win in Tennessee would give the Bengals their first five-game winning streak since 1988, when they won their second AFC title.--It is the eighth time in team history that the Bengals have started 5-2 and 10th time they have been 5-2 or better. The last three times they have been 5-2 (1990, 2005, 2009) they have made the playoffs.--In 72 games, including one postseason meeting, the Bengals and Titans (formerly Oilers) have each scored 1,677 points. The Titans lead by 27 points in regular-season play (1,663-1,636), but the Bengals won the only postseason game by 27, a 41-14 decision after the 1990 season.--The teams last met in Week 2 of the 2008 season in Cincinnati. The Titans won 24-7 in a game where the winds were over 70 miles per hour over the final three quarters. The Bengals and Titans managed only 127 and 118 passing yards, respectively.--The Bengals stopped their first two-point conversion of the season last week. Since1994, when the two-point conversion was added to NFL rules, the Bengals are 17-for-46 (37.0 percent), and their opponents are 17-for-41 (41.5 percent).--The Bengals' record for points in a game was set in a 61-17 win at Houston on Dec. 17, 1972, and Cincinnati tied that mark 17 years to the day later in a 61-7 win vs. Houston on Dec. 17, 1989, which is also the team record for margin of victory (54).--The Bengals' individual records for touchdowns (four) and points (24) in a game were first set by fullback Larry Kinnebrew at Houston on Oct. 28, 1984, and those marks were tied by running back Corey Dillon vs. Tennessee on Dec. 4, 1997.--The longest field goal in Bengals history, 55 yards by Chris Bahr, came at Houston on Sept. 23, 1979.BY THE NUMBERS: 37 - Points scored by the defense and special teams in the fourth quarter over the last four games.QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've played on the road against some teams that have been fighting their tails off for their season as well and we've played well enough to win. We've got to continue to play that way and we've got to hone in on things and make things better in every facet of the game and continue to play team football." - OT Andrew Whitworth on the season so far.STRATEGY AND PERSONNELWith Cedric Benson back on the roster, the Bengals waived CB Morgan Trent on Wednesday. Trent had spent three seasons with the Bengals but was nearly cut at the beginning of training camp due to lingering knee issues.If Adam Jones is unable to play due to his hamstring injury, that would leave the Bengals with three healthy corners - Leon Hall, Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings. That would not be the first time this season though that the Bengals have been in that situation. Jennings missed the first two games due to injury, which had them at three.With Benson back, expect Bernard Scott to go back to the usual 6-8 carries per game.PLAYER NOTES--LB Dan Skuta could start in the middle for the third straight game if Rey Maualuga's ankle injury has not healed.--WRPR Brandon Tate was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 24.3 yards on three punt returns including a 56-yard touchdown.--LB Thomas Howard was limited in practice due to a hamstring injury but is expected to play on Sunday.--DE Carlos Dunlap was listed as limited due to a groin injury but is expected to play on Sunday.--S Chris Crocker did not practice on Wednesday but has been rested on Wednesdays in three of the last four game weeks.INJURY IMPACT--CB Adam Jones (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday and said the hamstring feels about 60 percent right now. He said he would not play unless he felt better than 70 percent.--TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) missed his second straight practice but was working out on a side field. He might be 90 percent healthy if he plays but also could be held out until next week.--LB Rey Maualuga (ankle) has not practiced since Oct. 13 but has started to run on a side field. It is likely he will be out another week.GAME PLAN: With Tennessee having the sixth-worst run defense in the league and with Benson back, the Bengals should be able to stick to their running game, especially with the Titans having a young defensive line. Defensively, the Bengals might have a difficult time establishing their pass rush against the Titans but with the struggles of Chris Johnson, they should be able to make them a one-dimensional team.MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Bengals WR A.J. Green vs. Titans CB Cortland Finnegan: Green has a touchdown catch in three straight games mainly on deep routes and by using his double move. Finnegan though is an aggressive corner whose physical play could trip up Green at times.Bengals CB Leon Hall vs. Titans WR Nate Washington: Hall struggled last week in single coverage on deep routes but should have the advantage over Washington, who has become the Titans' top receiver out of necessity after the season-ending injury to Kenny Britt.
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