'Bad Andy' Dalton returns with dismal performance versus Ravens

The Cincinnati Bengals had plenty of things to worry about going into the season opener, but quarterback Andy Dalton wasn't supposed to be one of them.

A 20-0 loss to the Ravens in Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday fell largely on Dalton's shoulders. Dalton completed 16 of 31 passes for 170 yards, four interceptions, a fumble and no touchdowns. He was sacked five times and finished with a quarterback rating of 28.4, the second-lowest of his career.

“I didn’t give us a chance to win this game," Dalton said. "I didn’t give us a chance to score the points we needed to win. It starts with me."

Dalton's performance brought back memories of another bad game. In that game, a 24-3 loss to the Browns in 2014, Dalton threw three picks and had a quarterback rating of 2.0.

That day was supposed to be something to joke about, a performance so far in the past it seemed like a distant memory. Games like that were the reason Dalton was tagged with the "Bad Andy" nickname.

Dalton almost put "Bad Andy" to rest by stepping up with a solid second half in 2014 and a great 2015 season. His teammates still say he could've been a candidate for the MVP that year if his season had not ended early because of a broken thumb.

In 2015 and 2016, Dalton threw only 15 interceptions to 43 touchdowns. He is now halfway to last year's total of eight.

Sunday was as bad as "Bad Andy" gets.

To put it in perspective, Dalton is the first player with five turnovers in a season opener since Ben Roethlisberger had five against the Ravens in 2011.

Dalton was picked off looking for A.J. Green in the first quarter, then again when he threw into triple coverage looking for Brandon LaFell in the end zone. A third interception came at Cincinnati's own 17-yard line on a throw so bad it bounced off Terrell Suggs' helmet and into the hands of Lardarius Webb.

An interception by Nick Vigil could've given the Bengals a spark to start the second half, but Dalton was strip-sacked by Suggs, who beat Cedric Ogbuehi to sneak up on him and swat the ball out.

Dalton could be given a pass on some plays, particularly the strip-sack, because of questionable offensive line play. Don't expect the offensive line play to get much better.

However, great quarterbacks can rise above deficits in other areas, and Dalton has to do that if he wants to get to the next level. If he can't, it's going to be another long season in Cincinnati.

"You have to bounce back," Dalton said. "That’s where we’re at right now. We’re in a position where we have to bounce back and we have to come out and play way better than we did today. ...

"I don’t have any doubt in this team that we’re going to do that. I feel like we’ve got the right guys that can handle this.”

What it means: After a promising preseason, the Bengals don’t look any better than they did when finishing 6-9-1 last season. The Bengals were supposed to be better after adding new weapons on offense and giving the receivers one more year in the system. Instead, they couldn’t really do anything against the Ravens. That’s pretty troubling and could be a sign of things to come.

What I liked: Joe Mixon ... when he was on the field. Mixon had two great back-to-back plays, catching a pass for 9 yards and rushing for an 8-yard gain, then was barely used again. Mixon was in the final two plays of the game, both of which resulted in significant yardage losses.

The Bengals appear to be rotating their running backs by series, which means Mixon might be little-used for a while.

What I didn’t like: The Bengals were shut out at home in their season opener for the first time since 1979. That pretty much says it all. Not only did Dalton have one of his worst games, but nobody else stepped up. The Bengals have a lot of talent but did nothing with it Sunday.

Fantasy fallout: So much for a big performance from a healthy Tyler Eifert. Two seasons removed from a team-leading 13 touchdowns, Eifert was barely even looked at by Dalton. Eifert went from one of the best red zone threats to invisible on Sunday.

O-line needs help: The biggest question mark in the offseason was how the Bengals could bounce back from a 41-sack season after losing their two best linemen. As it turns out, they might not.

To make matters worse, starting right guard Trey Hopkins, who earned his job in camp, left with an injury. This could be a problem that follows the Bengals all season. Few players are waiting in the wings to step up.

What’s next: The Bengals will turn around on a short week to face the Texans on Thursday night. The Texans are coming off a disastrous performance against the Jaguars in their home opener. Both teams are going to be desperate to avoid starting 0-2.