FRISCO, Texas —
The Cowboys 30-17 victory over Cincinnati turned out to be a homecoming fit for a king. Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton back where he spent his first nine years in the NFL re-writing the Bengals record-books.
"Yeah, this one was special," said Dalton. "Obviously a team I played for a long time. You want to do everything you can to win. I thought our team played really well."
Dalton named one of three Cowboys captains for the day chosen to give the final word to his team before taking the field.
"You could tell what it meant to him He was fired up,” said running back Zeke Elliott, “but he said it wasn’t about him."
"It was about us, it wasn’t about his return,” said linebacker Jaylon Smith of Dalton’s pregame message. “It was about us, the Dallas Cowboys, getting the job done."
The Bengals couldn’t have more accommodating for their former teammate. Their third straight fumble to start the game led to Dalton’s best drive of the day.
He was efficient in converting a trio of third downs through the air. The Cowboys marching 88-yards in 8-plus minutes opening a 17-nothing second-quarter lead, essentially icing the game.
“Everybody was excited,” said Dalton. “It feels good to come back to a place that I was for a long time to win, and like I said it just feels good.”
Dalton was efficient on the day completing 16-of-23 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback rating was 121.6.
"This was definitely special for him,” according to Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. " He wanted to win this game everyone in the locker room wanted to win this for him."
McCarthy gave Dalton a game ball and that was right after a celebratory post-game water show from his teammates when he got back to the locker room. The last time he was in that visitor's locker room at Paul Brown Stadium, he was hosting a holiday party for his Cincinnati-based foundation. A full-circle moment in a day full of many for the Dalton family.
With the game well in hand late in the fourth quarter on fourth down, the Cowboys dialed up a pass play and Dalton hit Tony Pollard for his second touchdown pass of the game.
"Just pure joy after the touchdown knowing we were going to win the game,” said Dalton of the scores.
After the play he looked up at his wife Jordan and flashed the, “I love you,” sign her way.
"I’ve done that a lot in this stadium,” said Dalton. “After touchdowns acknowledging her, giving her the ‘I love you’ and getting it back.”
It’s been a tough year in many ways. Nice to see good things happening for good people.
“That’s a moment I think both of us will never forget,” said Dalton.