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Dalton delivers

Bengals QB comfortable, confident in West Coast ‘O’

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POSTED October 31, 2013 1:17 a.m.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton has heard all the talk: He can’t win a big game, his arm isn’t strong enough to complete the long pass, and he’ll never be more than a caretaker quarterback.

His last three games have changed the conversation.

The third-year quarterback is on the best three-game stretch in Bengals history. He’s thrown 11 touchdown passes — no other Bengals quarterback has done that — while hitting every type of throw.

For the first time, he’s looking very comfortable in a West Coast offense that the Bengals thought he would grow into someday.

“I don’t think there’s really anything that’s changed in me,” Dalton said. “I feel like I’m playing with a lot of confidence and our guys are doing the same thing. That’s been big for us.”

Cincinnati (6-2) is in control of the AFC North in large part because its quarterback has grown up a lot this season. He’s thrown for 300 yards in three straight games, matching the best such streak in club history, according to STATS LLC. The only other Bengals quarterback to do that was Ken Anderson, and the two of them share the No. 14. All the talk about what he can’t do is giving way to wondering how far he can take the Bengals, who play at Miami (3-4) tonight.

“That’s one guy who I don’t think feeds into all of that other stuff,” receiver A.J. Green said. “It just comes with the territory of being the quarterback. ... We all felt like he was going to take us to the next level, and he’s showing that now.”

The second-round pick from TCU did some impressive things in his first two seasons, taking the Bengals to the playoffs as a wild card each year — no other Cincinnati quarterback had done that. He threw 47 touchdown passes, trailing only Dan Marino and Peyton Manning for most in their first two seasons.

Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes — four to second-year receiver Marvin Jones — during a 49-9 win over the Jets on Sunday that showed he can dominate a game.

One of the most encouraging signs in the past three weeks is the way Dalton has used his other receivers. In his first two years, he’d lock on Green. Now, he has more choices and he’s using all of them. For instance, Jones has caught six of his 11 touchdown passes in the last three games.

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