Bengals vs. Dolphins Grades

Mike Ehrmann

Grading out the Bengals performance against the Dolphins, breaking it down position by position.

Quarterback: I have a hard time laying all of Cincinnati's mistakes at Andy Dalton's feet, despite being held accountable for four turnovers. One interception was the result of a perfect throw that bounced off Mohamed Sanu, and another A.J. Green takes the blame because he didn't fight back for the football (his words, not mine). Additionally, Dalton was sacked five times, took five quarterback hits and 19 total pressures, and was the victim of several dropped passes. Not entirely his fault, but he wasn't spectacular either.

Grade: C

Running Back: Giovani Bernard was the highlight on an otherwise mistake-prone offense Thursday. His fourth quarter 35-yard touchdown run is one of the more remarkable things that we'll see this year. Additionally, Bernard scored the team's only touchdowns. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a couple of good runs, but continues to be fitting into his role a short-yardage back that's not converting short-yardage situations.

Grade: B

Wide Receivers: Despite A.J. Green posting 11 receptions for 128 yards with Mohamed Sanu (six catches, 62 yards) and Marvin Jones (four catches, 66 yards) adding 128 yards receiving combined, there were serious flaws. It wasn't the statistical beauty of their production, nor the critical third down receptions that will be remembered. It was several critical third down drops that stalled drives; notably from A.J. Green and Sanu. It's difficult to place too much blame on Green, though he accepted all of it for one of Dalton's interceptions but Sanu was noticeably bad. A dropped third down and the inability to haul in another pass led to another Dalton pick.

Grade: C

Tight End: Jermaine Gresham was called for an offensive hold that negated Marvin Jones' 50-yard touchdown; though the call was extremely questionable at best. Gresham and Tyler Eifert combined for six receptions and 47 yards receiving. But it was the blocking that hurt them. Eifert, who is usually pretty steady at blocking, had arguably one of his worst performances yet.

Grade: C

Offensive Line: Awful. Just. Awful. Andy Dalton was sacked five times, including the game-losing safety where Cameron Wake easily sliced through Kevin Zeitler. Dalton was hit an additional five times and was pressured on at least 19 pass attempts. BenJarvus Green-Ellis posted a mediocre 3.4 yard/rush average and most of Giovani Bernard's gains were the result of his improvisation. Even the 35-yard touchdown should have been a four-yard loss, but his ability to gain yards led to the score.

Grade: D

Defensive Line: Losing Geno Atkins was the dagger in Cincinnati's heart; not the actual loss. But it happens in the NFL. Even when Atkins was playing, the Bengals were gashed at the point of attack, allowing 142 yards rushing in the first half. Though it appeared that Cincinnati's defense eventually found their rhythm against the run, the truth is that Miami only ran the football eight times in the second half and overtime combined. Carlos Dunlap had another good game, leading the team with six hurries and a beautiful forced fumble that was the result of relentlessness and the refusal to be beaten during Lamar Miller's almost-certain touchdown run. Atkins, Wallace, and Michael Johnson each posted a sack and four tackles for loss combined.

Grade: B

Linebackers: Not a good game. Vontaze Burfict, a tackling machine, posted only five tackles, which tied with Vinnie Rey for third on the team. James Harrison had a critical third down stop. Not a bad evening, but not necessarily memorable either; perhaps the loss of Rey Maualuga was felt greater than we thought?

Grade: C

Secondary: Terence Newman's pass interference can be viewed from two perspectives. You either recognize that it prevented a touchdown and allowed Cincinnati to continue fighting. Or that he was beaten so badly in the first place that he was forced to resort to it. Either way, it was the catalyst that gave Miami superior field position and pinned Cincinnati at their own eight-yard line for the eventual game-deciding safety. Was disgusted that the secondary played so soft during Miami's fourth quarter drive that tied the game on a field goal with seconds remaining in regulation. At least four missed tackles also led to decent gains on the ground.

Grade: C

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