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Bengals' Dalton better since coach's challenge

By By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) - Andy Dalton's demeanor hasn't changed since coach Marvin Lewis challenged him to become more of a leader, even if it meant being a jerk sometimes.

The quarterback's numbers, though, have gotten much better.

The Bengals have won 3 of the four games since Lewis publicly challenged Dalton to lead the offense and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to take charge of the defense. Cincinnati has won three in a row by at least 18 points - its best streak of blowouts since 1976 - and the two players have given their best performances.

They've been so good that Lewis has rewarded them with official "captain" designations.

The Bengals (6-5) are tied with Pittsburgh for the final AFC wild card berth heading into a game Sunday at San Diego (4-7).

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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