There’s nothing positive about Andy Dalton injuring his thumb, but the Cincinnati Bengals are probably more optimistic heading forwards towards the finish of the season, knowing it’s not as serious as initially feared.
Dalton will definitely miss the next game against the San Francisco 49ers, with A.J. McCarron, who has been waiting for this opportunity for a very long time, but after that, it’s going to be a week-to-week evaluation. Dalton doesn’t need surgery on his thumb, which might have meant not just missing the three remaining games in the regular season, but also possibly at least one postseason game, which who knows if the Bengals would have won without him (not that they’ve ever won one with him).
Dalton was injured when performing a tackle on the guy who intercepted him, Stephon Truitt, capping off the game’s opening drive. He finished with 3-of-5 for 59 yards before making way for McCarron, who finished the game completing 22-of-32 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions as the Bengals lost for only the third time this season and a first against a division rival, losing 33-20. It’ll be McCarron’s first career start.
The Bengals aren’t as worried about Tyler Eifert as well, who did leave the game with a concussion which broke up the QB-TE pairing that might have been responsible more than anything for the Bengals taking their game to a new level on offense, but Eifert should be cleared to play in San Francisco and even if he isn’t, the Bengals don’t have long term concerns over him. The doomsday scenario and uncertainty of the hours after the loss to Pittsburgh have been replaced with a sense that they can get through this without too much damage.
In college McCarron was a starter on two Alabama championship teams and even led the NCAA in passer efficiency rating and passing yards per attempt in 2012. He made some headlines after college for what some called an arrogant approach going into some interviews with teams, not helping his draft stock. He ended up being a fifth round pick (164th overall) by the Bengals in the 2014 NFL draft.