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Saints QB Andy Dalton records career-high passer rating, rests in Gospel despite uncertainty

The New Orleans Saints picked up a crucial 27-20 home win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams despite a number of injuries to key players. It moved the Saints to 4-7 on the season, keeping them within striking distance of Tampa Bay, the current NFC South leader with a 5-5 record.

The victory was thanks in large part to the play of Saints quarterback Andy Dalton. He finished with 260 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 21 of 25 pass attempts. That was good for a career-high passer rating of 149.6 in his 160th career regular-season game.

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“We had a great plan going in, and we went out and executed it,” Dalton said in his postgame press conference. “Regardless of all the other stuff that goes on, I think that’s what makes you the most proud. That’s for me personally and for this group.”

The 35-year-old’s performance came at the perfect time for both his team and himself, as New Orleans was considering reinstating Jameis Winston as its starting quarterback. Winston has been out since September while dealing with back and foot injuries.

Winston was 1-2 before his injuries, and in his stead, Dalton has gone 3-5. And although Dalton’s job as New Orleans’ starting quarterback seems secure for at least another week, one bad game may cause head coach Dennis Allen to make the switch back.

“I think at the end of the day,” Dalton said, “I want to play the way I know I’m capable of playing. And I know if I do that, then everybody will be happy with it.”

In the midst of such career uncertainty, Dalton strives to find his ultimate identity not in what people think of his play on the football field but in who Christ has made him to be.

“This sport teaches you humility and patience in all different aspects,” Dalton said in a 2014 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. “There are times when you are praised and you are the hottest thing going — and then things turn, and people are trying to bring you down. You just have to know that God is in control of everything, and you are playing for Him. He has given you this talent, and so you have to tune some things out and keep the focus on Him.”

Dalton, whose profile picture on his Twitter account includes his initials and a cross, mentions the Bible verse 1 Peter 5:6 in his bio. The verse reads, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Dalton not only seeks to live out his faith by declaring it publicly on social media, but he and his wife, Jordan, founded the Andy & JJ Dalton Foundation a year after Andy was drafted in the second round by the Bengals out of TCU in 2011.

 

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According to the foundation’s website, it exists to “show God’s love and grace while providing support, resources and experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families.”

In 2018, Dalton joined the Sports Spectrum Podcast to discuss how sweet the Gospel is in light of his public platform and performance-driven occupation.

“People are always watching you, looking to see what you’re doing,” he said. “Salvation is freely given; it’s by nothing that we’ve done but everything that Jesus has done for us. … I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect except Jesus.”

Dalton will seek to rest in that fact, even as eyes are on him to see whether he can continue playing at a high level and leading the Saints to victories. He will seek to do so for the second consecutive week on Sunday when the Saints travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers (5-4). The game is set for 4:25 p.m. ET.

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