The Miami Dolphins successfully handed the Cincinnati Bengals their second loss of the season yesterday, winning the contest 17-13. Miami now stands at 2-3 on the season – tied for third in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins were down 6-0 before going on a scoring spree of 17 consecutive points. Cincinnati was then able to close in on Miami’s lead with a Andy Dalton to AJ Green fade pass over Miami corner, Sean Smith. Miami’s defense was then able to shut down Cincinnati’s offense for the remainder of the game – Safety Reshad Jones sealed the game by intercepting a Dalton pass.
Although Miami was able to muster a victory, it was ultimately a very sloppy defensive struggle.
-Rookie Ryan Tannehill followed up an excellent performance against Arizona, by having another excellent game against Cincinnati – 17-26 for 223 yards zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Tannehill is maturing slowly in front of our eyes by correcting previous mistakes week to week. Miami’s coaching staff did not make a mistake by naming Tannehill the starter.
-Running back Reggie Bush looked good in spurts, but looks too hesitant running the football now. Earlier in the season, Bush always looked to gain 4+ yards per carry – now it seems Bush would rather break a 30+ yard run than gain a solid 4-5 yards. Bush did find success though, carrying the rock 19 times for 49 yards and one touchdown (2 receptions for 24 yards). Let’s get him more involved in the passing game, coaches.
-Running back Daniel Thomas looked good early on, 10 carries for 29 yards and 1 touchdown (also had a crucial third down reception that picked up 8 yards and should have been a first down but was ruled a yard short), but was knocked out of the game on a head to head hit by a Cincinnati defenders. Thomas has a had problems with concussions numerous times in his young career, hopefully he is okay.
-No Receiver really stood out during this contest for Miami. Brian Hartline – 4 receptions 59 yards – was still Tannehill’s number one option in the passing attack. Hartline and Tannehill seem to be on page despite having limited time together. Davone Bess is Mr. Third Down. Although Bess only was able to reel in 2 receptions for 49 yards, he was able to convert a third down on a wonderfully designed play.
-Tight End Charles Clay – 3 receptions for 35 yards – was finally used in the passing game. Although Clay had issues with hanging on to the football again today – a reoccurring theme – Clay was able to find space in Cincinnati’s defense all day long.
-The offensive line looked great in pass protection – only surrendering two sacks against a fierce pass rush. Jake Long looked like his good old self in pass protection, completely shutting down Defensive End Carlos Dunlap. Mike Pouncey was also able to hold his own against the NFL’s best defensive tackle, Geno Atkins.
-I would like to see this offensive line of Miami’s to be more aggressive while run blocking. Too many Cincinnati defenders were running free into Miami’s back field. Coach Jim Turner, fix this!
-The smothering front seven surrendered 80 yards on the ground during the contest. Miami was able to keep Benjarvis Green-Ellis in check for most of the game, but seemed to have issues containing Bernard Scott’s speed. All in all, another great game by the league’s top run defense (61.4 yards per game).
-Defensive Tackle Randy Starks easily gets the game ball for his performance Sunday – 3 total tackles .5 sack and 1 interception. Starks was constantly getting penetration against Cincinnati’s offensive line. Let’s not forget about Starks’ partner in crime, though. Mr. Paul Soliai played one heck of a game. Soliai finished the day with .5 sack and 3 total tackles. These two may give Miami the best defensive tackle duo in the league.
-Defensive End Cameron Wake followed up his career high performance last Sunday (4.5 sacks) with another great game against Cincinnati – 5 total tackles 1 sack. Wake was constantly applying pressure to Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton – meaning he threw around right tackle Andre Smith like a rag doll….Sound familiar, Bobbie Massie? Wake is quietly having an all-pro season.
-Miami may have the best linebacker’s against the run. Middle Linebacker Karlos Dansby played awesome! Although Dansby only finished with 5 tackles on the day, he was constantly taking on the lead blocker allowing his teammates to make the tackle – my only concern is why did we have Dansby on Hawkins late in the game? Outside Linebacker Kevin Burnett also played his butt off, posting a stat-line of 7 total tackles and a half sack. Burnett was able to shut down short dump off passes and wreck oncoming ball carriers. The linebacker of the day was easily, Koa Misi. Misi has impressed me numerous times this season. Misi finished the day with 5 total tackles and forced a fumble. He is easily Miami’s best linebacker against the run, and Miami’s most improved player.
-Miami’s corners played on heck of a game. Sean Smith – 8 total tackles and one forced fumble – was able to lock down AJ Green – his second consecutive week of shutting down one of the NFL’s elite receivers. Smith is slowly proving his worth to this organization and should be given a new deal within the coming weeks. Nolan Carroll played his best game as a Dolphin. Although Carroll was only awarded 4 tackles on the day, he was constantly around the ball – Cincinnati may have been picking on him. Carroll was able to stick with receivers in coverage and lock them down.
-Safety Reshad Jones is making his case to be recognized as one of the league’s best safeties. Jones played like the ball-hawk Miami has been needing since the days of Brock Marion. Jones finished the day with seven tackles, but it was his fourth quarter interception that helped seal the game for the ‘phins. Keep it up, Reshad.
-Safety Chris Clemons played one of his best games Sunday. Clemons did not take any bad angles or miss any tackles – yes, I was surprised too. Clemons needs to continue this play if Miami hopes to turn around this secondary.
-All in all, it was a great day for Miami’s defense. Of course, forcing AJ Green to fumble twice is a great accomplishment – but helping your team win by putting your offense in position to score is an even better achievement.
Special Teams –
-Kicker Dan Carpenter missed another field goal. Seems like I am repeating myself here. Give him a break. 50+ yards is no cake walk.
-Punter Brandon Fields continues to impress me week in and week out. Fields easily has one of the most deadly legs in the NFL. If all else fails on offense, let Fields boot it and pin the opposing team deep!
-Kick – Punt Returner Marcus Thigpen was not given many chances on kick – punt returns for his second consecutive week. It’s too bad, I always get excited whenever he fields the ball.
Should the Miami Dolphins have walked away with a victory based upon the way they played Sunday? Probably not. Realistically, neither team should have. Although there were not many penalties, both team struggled holding onto the football and taking advantage of turnovers. It is what it is I suppose, quite a defensive struggle.
Miami will face the St. Louis Rams this Sunday as the team looks to get back to .500 on the season, before entering their bye week.
As always, Keep your FINS UP!!!
—-ALL STATISTICS TAKEN FROM NFL.COM—-