CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton is getting a second chance to shine in a hometown playoff game. The first one didn't turn out well.
A year ago, the Bengals quarterback had one of the worst games of his rookie season in front of a lot of family and friends in Houston. He threw three interceptions, one DE J.J. Watt returned for a touchdown, in the Texans' 31-10 wild-card victory.
"It'll be fun," Dalton, a TCU alum from Katy, Texas, said Wednesday. "It's definitely cool to come back and play where I'm from."
Those friends and relatives — and those Texans — will see a quarterback who has improved in almost every statistical category.
He completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,669 yards, 27 touchdowns and an 87.4 rating. The only negative: his 16 interceptions compared with 13 as a rookie. "He's a guy that's grown," Bengals OT Andrew Whitworth said. "He's matured. I think he's ready for his opportunity."
Ravens-Colts: Rookie quarterbacks are 2-6 against the Ravens since John Harbaugh became coach prior to the 2008 season. That includes last season's 20-13 division win over Houston and T.J. Yates. Sunday, it's the Colts' Andrew Luck.
"I can't tell you any secrets," Baltimore DT Arthur Jones said. "But we've got a little niche going. We've definitely got something going that's … been working for us against rookie quarterbacks to isolate them and prevent them from performing at high levels."
Under Harbaugh, Baltimore has allowed just two rookies, Dalton in 2011 and the Browns' Brandon Weeden in September, to throw for more than 300 yards. Overall, rookies have thrown four touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
"I would hesitate to say that you worry about going up against a great defense like the Ravens," Luck said. "But you definitely have an incredibly healthy respect for what they do and how they can affect games and change the game so quickly."
Texans: Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said he's "worried" about starting LB Tim Dobbins' availability for Saturday. Dobbins has been battling a shoulder problem over the last half of the season and was held out of practice Wednesday. Houston put starting LB Darryl Sharpton on injured reserve Tuesday with a hip injury. Dobbins' absence could mean more playing time for former Florida State LB Mister Alexander, who re-signed this week, and former Bucs LB Barrett Ruud.