Andy Dalton got the hero's welcome that was expected Sunday at New Era Field.
Then he went out and stuck it to the Buffalo Bills.
The Cincinnati Bengals' starting quarterback went 11 of 16 for 180 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work, leading his team to a 26-13 victory. That capped what Dalton called a "good day," one that started with a visit to Roswell Park Comprehensive Center.
"I think the way it started was the best part because I was able to give back," Dalton said. "It was amazing and there's so much support here in Buffalo. So many people have given to us, so the fact that the day started out that way and the game went well, too."
The Bengals held Dalton back, so he was the last player out of the tunnel. Fans responded with a standing ovation — a thank you for his touchdown pass in Week 17 of the 2017 season that clinched a playoff spot for the Bills. Fans flooded Dalton's foundation with donations after he helped end Buffalo's prolonged playoff drought.
"It's a crazy story and it's been fun to be on this side of it and going through it," he said. "The best part is all the money that was raised and how many families and how many children we were able to help."
Dalton likely wouldn't have been able to make his visit to Roswell if the Bengals' trip to Buffalo had been for a regular-season game.
"I think it's cool that it all happened the way it did," he said.
After Dalton's warm welcome, he wasted little time getting to work. His first pass of the game was a bomb to receiver John Ross that went for a 57-yard touchdown.
"I don't feel bad," Dalton said after the game. "It's just all part of it. We just have to play to our potential and I feel like we started the game how we wanted to. We knew that was going to be the first play. I said in the huddle it was going to be a touchdown. I said on the sidelines before the game it was going to be a touchdown. So I'm glad it happened that way. "
Dalton added his second touchdown with a 14-yard strike to receiver A.J. Green later in the first quarter.
"A.J. and I have been doing this together for a long time," he said. "I know how he runs routes and for him, he's so good. He did a great job beating the corner so I could give him the ball to make a play and he did."
Even Tyler Boyd — the receiver of that miracle touchdown — enjoyed his trip to Buffalo, finishing with a team-leading four catches for 54 yards. Green had four for 50 yards as Dalton got all his weapons involved.
"Andy is just a great guy on and off the field," Green said. "What he's done off the field with his foundation, these kids and their parents is just unbelievable. A lot we see on the field, but a lot of what he does off the field is unbelievable."
Story topics: Andy Dalton