The Bengals’ 22-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night evened their record at 2-2. However, there were still some aspects of the victory that spell concern.
Needing a win after back-to-back losses, the Cincinnati Bengals responded in an early-season must-win game. After falling behind 7-3, the Bengals rallied off 19 unanswered points to win the game, 22-7.
The positives from this game are evident from the final result:
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A.J. Greensnagged 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown
CJ Uzomah and Brandon LaFell were great compliments to Green, combining for eight catches and 89 yards.
After allowing a 74-yard Kenny Stills‘ touchdown on the Dolphins’ second play from scrimmage, the defense held Miami scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Cincinnati’s defense held Miami to 2 for 11 on third down and only 62 rushing yards.
The Bengals had just four sacks through the first three games but dropped Ryan Tannehill five times.
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Marvin’s Men won the turnover battle, 2-0.
Cincinnati won a primetime game for the fifth consecutive season.
But with all those numbers, it seems like this game wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The Bengals won nearly every statistical category and held the ball for 16 minutes more than Miami. Yet, the game still finished as a two-score decision.
What went wrong
It appears the Bengals’ running game is still struggling. Thursday was supposed to be the game Jeremy Hill breaks out of his slump. Miami ranked dead last in the AFC against the run coming into the matchup, but Cincinnati only managed 89 yards on 31 attempts between Hill and GiovaniBernard.
Hill had a golden opportunity for a red zone score on Cincy’s first drive of the second half. A 13-yard catch by Bernard set Cincinnati up first and goal at the Dolphins’ two-yard line, but Hill was stuffed on consecutive attempts, losing two yards.
Along with the ground game, the Bengals’ red zone trips were not pretty. Dalton’s seven-yard touchdown to Green that put Cincinnati up 10-7 was his first scoring toss in 11 red zone trips this season. The final two Bengals’ drives inside the Miami 20 resulted in field goals.
The good news for Cincinnati is that a win is a win. It was as close to a must-win scenario as you could get for the defending AFC North champions.
With 10 days separating the Bengals from their Week 5 matchup in Dallas, Cincinnati can make their adjustments and most importantly get healthy.
Marvin Lewis is hoping his team’s red zone woes come to a screeching halt. Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert was close to making his return against Miami, but the coaching staff held him out on a short week. All signs point to Eifert making his return against the Cowboys. 11 of his 13 touchdowns last season came in the red zone.
The offensive line suffered their first casualty of the season against Miami. Left guard Clint Boling left in the third quarter holding his arm. He returned in the drive, but headed to the locker room one possession later and didn’t return.Jake Fisher was his replacement.
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In the secondary, Dre Kirkpatrick missed the game due to a hamstring injury, snapping a streak of 46 straight starts for the 17th overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft. Josh Shaw left the game after some friendly fire from safety George Iloka in the second half. Early signs pointed to a possible concussion, but later reports speculated just a stinger. The Bengals are hoping for the latter.
Cowboys-Bengals is set for Sunday, Oct. 9th at 4.25 p.m at AT&T Stadium. The Bengals have not won in Dallas since 1988.