The reviews came streaming in. Andy Dalton played great. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called it one of the best games the young QB played for Cincinnati. Marvin Lewis doled out compliments.

Even the numbers indicated Dalton played like a quarterback taking the next step in the opener. Dalton set a career high in completion percentage (78 percent) against a Bears team that finished last season ranked in the top five in total defense.

Before declaring Dalton as having lived up to lofty expectations this year quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese would rather reserve judgment until Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is done with him.

“I want to say yes (Dalton looks improved)” Zampese said. “It’s one game’s worth of information and one game’s worth of information was positive. We got a long way to go and we are going to find out more about him this weekend.”

Most opinions on Dalton’s development will ultimately be made inside the unfriendly confines of the AFC North. When LeBeau begins dialing up disguised fire zones and Troy Polamalu begins popping into unpredictable freelance fury then what will be said about the next level of Andy Dalton?

The quarterback appeared to have exorcised his Pittsburgh demons with last year’s signature victory 13-10 at Heinz Field to send the Bengals to the playoffs and the Steelers to draft scouting. Dalton never previously beat the Steelers or Ravens but pulled off the double whammy to close the regular season.

In Dalton’s first three career games against the Steelers he averaged hitting 13 of 27 passes for 137 yards. He threw four touchdowns against three interceptions. Most importantly he racked up three losses.