Frustration. An afternoon full of unbelievably violent fist-pounding frustration. The Cincinnati Bengals offense, compounded by an impressive Miami Dolphins defense, had forgotten their meds, highlighted by a persona that seemed listless, lifeless and depressing. Defensively the Bengals played well enough, holding the Dolphins to under 300 yards of total offense, including 80 yards rushing and even forcing a turnover.
But then it wasn't the defense that highlighted such an epic afternoon of disgust. As a unit the offense converted only two of 14 third down opportunities and at one point went punt, fumble, punt, interception, punt and punt between scores. And during the fourth quarter, while within a score to take the lead, the offense went punt, missed field goal and interception.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, forced into 43 pass attempts Sunday afternoon, threw two interceptions, including a game-ender, and felt the will of an opposing defense that dropped him three times. Many of his throws were off-target and often rushed, but also the result of uncommon drops from otherwise reliable receivers like A.J. Green, who fumbled twice but recovered both, and Andrew Hawkins. BenJarvus Green-Ellis showed relative uselessness again, generating only 14 yards on nine carries but that was arguably the conviction of an impressive Dolphins rush defense, constantly stuffing Cincinnati's rushing lanes. Bernard Scott, posted 40 yards rushing early in the first half, left the game with a second quarter knee injury.
Though many are questioning why the Bengals didn't go for two early in the fourth quarter, we have to question the attempted field goal with 3:05 remaining in the game. The Bengals had fourth and five from the Dolphins 23-yard line and Marvin Lewis calls for a Mike Nugent attempt, which he pushed wide right. Now thankfully an inexperienced Dolphins offense helped the Bengals save time on the clock with an incompletion and a Jorvorski Lane reception in which he runs out of bounds, giving Cincinnati 1:45 left in the game.
Still. The same theme that affected Cincinnati's offensive effort, reapplied in the fourth quarter when Andy Dalton forced a deep pass to Andrew Hawkins down the middle of the field, which Reshad Jones intercepted, giving the Dolphins a 17-13 win.
Cincinnati heads north to complete the season series against the winless Cleveland Browns.