NFL

If Andy Dalton Doesn’t Stick With the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Is Always an Option

Dallas Cowboys fans aren’t sure what to make of the Andy Dalton signing since the presence of Dak Prescott should assure that the nine-year veteran of the Cincinnati Bengals never plays a down except in case of emergency.

That’s not to say they can’t learn to love Dalton anyway. After all, he’s never played a down for the Buffalo Bills and that hasn’t stopped that team’s fans from embracing Dalton.

Andy Dalton has had a steady but unspectacular career

It was a given that the Cincinnati Bengals weren’t going to keep quarterback Andy Dalton after making LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft. Veteran quarterbacks with 133 career starts are expensive, so a team with a reputation for pinching pennies wasn’t going to keep him around.

What they’ve cast aside is a guy who has thrown for more than 31,000 yards and has a decent ratio of 204 touchdown passes to 118 interceptions. The 2019 season was Dalton’s worst in the NFL, but it’s not like his numbers were bad enough to explain the Bengals’ 2-14 record.

If it’s fair to note that Dalton was 0-4 as a playoff quarterback, it’s also worth noting that no Cincinnati quarterback was won a postseason game since 1990. At some point you must look toward the front office to find the actual culprits.

The day Andy Dalton became a Buffalo Bills legend

The Cincinnati Bengals were 6-9 and eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive season when they faced the Baltimore Ravens on New Year’s Eve in 2017.

Although the game meant nothing to the Bengals, the Ravens entered with a 9-6 record and could clinch a playoff spot with a victory. All looked well for them as the Ravens held a 27-24 lead with 1:23 left and Andy Dalton had just thrown an interception.

However, a flag on the play went against the Ravens and gave the ball back to the Bengals with a fresh set of downs. An offensive penalty, two incompletions, and a short catch left the Bengals in a fourth-and-12 situation just inside Baltimore territory when Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd on a pass that went for 49 yards and a Cincinnati touchdown.

The Bengals won, 31-27, but the game meant much more elsewhere. Coupled with Buffalo’s victory over Miami moments earlier, Dalton’s touchdown pass put the Bills into the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.

The joke at the time was that Andy Dalton was suddenly more popular in Western New York than even Jim Kelly.

An outpouring of love from Buffalo Bills fans

The hardcore football fans in Buffalo have come to be known as the Bills Mafia. Calling them rabid doesn’t begin to do justice to their passion. Once they were done celebrating the playoff berth on New Year’s Eve, those fans started looking for ways to express their gratitude to Andy Dalton for his clutch touchdown pass.

Someone looked online and found a reference to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, which was started by the quarterback and his wife to assist sick and physically challenged children and their families. One Bills fan donated $30 and shared a screenshot with the Bills Mafia, encouraging them to give money.

Shortly afterward, someone realized less was more: By recommending a donation of $17 in honor of the Bills’ 17-year absence from the playoffs, they triggered a tsunami of donations of $17, $34, and $170 at a time. The donations kept coming, reaching $100,000 in less than two full days. By the time it was over, 17,000 people had donated more than $450,000 – roughly the charitable foundation’s budget for an entire year.

Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd quickly set up a foundation to help fund youth sports programs in Western Pennsylvania, and Bills fans flooded the account with another $100,000 in gifts.

The show of affection wasn’t over. When the Bengals came to Buffalo to play a preseason game the following summer, Bills fans greeted Dalton with a standing ovation. The quarterback and his wife reciprocated with a donation to a Buffalo-area charity.