When the Bengals edged out the Steelers last weekend, it had some significance for starting quarterback Andy Dalton -- it was the first time he'd gotten a victory over either Baltimore or Pittsburgh.
Coming into that game, Dalton had an 0-6 record against both teams during his brief two-year career. There's no question that he's one of the NFL's top young quarterbacks, but he still hadn't taken the next step of beating either of those two teams, also among the NFL's best.
Now he's beaten one of them. Can he beat the other?
Dalton's got some tools in his bag, starting with wide receiver A.J. Green, already one of the most dangerous young speedsters in the league. But the Bengals hadn't been able to get past the Ravens or Steelers during Dalton's two years until last weekend's 13-10 victory over Pittsburgh.
That's part of growing and life in the NFL.
Now Dalton will face the Ravens this Sunday in a bit of a tricky game. This contest means nothing to the Bengals as they can't win the AFC North -- the Ravens have already clinched it -- and Baltimore is at the No. 4 seed and needs a win plus a Patriots loss to move to No. 3. So it's not a win-or-else situation as both teams already are in the playoffs.
It's a good test for Dalton. He's not done well against either the Steelers or the Ravens this year, with a combined total of one touchdown and four interceptions against the two teams and a 1-2 record.
The Ravens should give Dalton another good test on Sunday, regardless of who they play. The defense played much better in last Sunday's rout of the Giants, something that happened during the three-game losing streak that preceded it.
Dalton is growing as a young quarterback. He's the future of the Cincinnati franchise, but he's looking for some success against the Ravens.