Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/27/12
Everyone knows that being a NFL quarterback can be the most challenging task in a career for a pro athlete.Some athletes are just born with the tenacity to overcome droughts and miscues.Andy Dalton, on the other hand, has exceeded everyone's expectations during his first two seasons, and his second year is not complete yet. He has joined a category that no one has been in since Peyton Manning’s rookie year. The NFL has recognized Dalton for his stellar performance with such a young offense and a second-year coordinator under his belt.Andy Dalton has joined Peyton Manning and Dan Marino becoming the only three quarterbacks to pass for 20 plus touchdowns in each of their first two seasons. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, and Big Ben can’t even say they have done that.In 2011, Andy Dalton threw for 3,398 yards while throwing for 20 touchdowns as rookie. In the first twelve weeks of the NFL this season, Dalton has 2,769 passing yards, 23 touchdown passes, and 11 Interceptions.So much for a sophomore slump right! Andy Dalton continues to dominate opposing defenses as he attempts to lead the Cincinnati Bengals back to the playoffs for the first time in back-to-back seasons in over 20 years.The task won’t be easy, but he has been making it look easy ever since head coach Marvin Lewis challenged Dalton and the quarterback of the defense, Rey Maualuga, to take the team by the neck and lead.Against the Oakland Raiders in Week 12, Dalton and Maualuga showed off their captain patches at the coin toss in front of thousands of Bengals fans. With a 94.0 rating as of Week 12, Andy Dalton seems to be heading back to the Pro Bowl for the second time after two years of play.With the help of Pro Bowl receiver, A.J. Green, and Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham, Andy Dalton can lead a group of young play-makers into that last wild card spot if opposing teams continue to slip down the stretch a la Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.These next five weeks are crucial and the NFL is a tough puppy to deal with in the month of December. The playoffs are near and Andy Dalton will have to play nearly perfect for Cincinnati to improve everyone wrong.Can the success of Andy Dalton and the Bengals continue riding them right into the playoffs? We shall see in January. 
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