At 1-2, the Bengals have an opportunity to get their season back on track this week as they face off against the also 1-2 Miami Dolphins, who would be 0-3 had it not been for a second half comeback against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. The Bengals will be seeing the return of Vontaze Burfict this week, which should give them a defensive boost. The offense should play well up against the NFL’s 28th ranked defense (31st overall against the run).
The Bengals head into Thursday’s game as the odds-on favorite to notch their first home win of the 2016 season and even their record back up to .500. But, things haven’t always been that simple for the Bengals against the Dolphins. In the 21 total times the two teams have met up throughout their histories, the Bengals have only managed to win five games. In fact, the Bengals haven’t won since 2007, despite having played three times since.
The Bengals and Dolphins both started as members of the short-lived American Football League. The Dolphins were formed in 1966, but the Bengals didn’t start playing until two years later (1968). In three total AFL meetings with the Dolphins, the Bengals actually came away with a winning record of 2-1.
That winning record against the Dolphins in the AFL comes despite the fact that the Bengals lost to the Dolphins in their first ever meeting in 1968. Bengals quarterback Dewey Warren was uninspiring in the game, but was also very smart with the ball. He completed 10 of his 11 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, good for a nearly perfect quarterback rating of 149.1. Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese was unimpressive but solid, recording a quarterback rating of 109.3.
However, Griese threw three touchdowns. Technically, those numbers were matched by Warren’s one and rushing touchdowns from the Bengals running backs Essex Johnson and Paul Robinson. But, in the end, it was the Dolphins’ ability to put up one field goal at the beginning of the game that allowed them to finish the game with a 24-22 victory over the expansion Bengals.
After both teams joined the NFL in 1970, the Bengals didn’t win another game against the Dolphins until 1977. They would then go on a nine game losing streak against Miami that only ended when Marvin Lewis got his hands on the team.
The Bengals’ first win against the Dolphins in 26 years came on September 19, 2004. The Bengals’ offense was fairly ineffective throughout most of the game, but an early pick six by Brian Simmons and a series of field goal drives by the Bengals allowed them to hold onto a slim 16-13 win.
The offense played much better the next time the two teams met, in 2007. It was the final game in a season that was generally a bust for the Bengals, who were sitting at 6-9 at the time. But, Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh rallied together for one last hurrah on the season. It helped that the Dolphins were downright horrible that year, sitting at an abysmal 1-14 record at the time. The Bengals handed them a hearty 38-25 loss as Palmer completed 23 of his 32 attempts for 316 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception (121.4 quarterback rating).
That was the last time the Bengals won a game against the Dolphins. The Palmer-Johnson era saw one more game against the Dolphins in the 2010 season, a game in which Terrell Owens was the only competent member of the Bengals’ offense. The Dolphins weren’t great that day, but they still managed to come out of the game with a solid 22-14 victory over the lowly Bengals.
In the Dalton-Green era, The Bengals have played the Dolphins twice and lost both times. The most notably painful of those losses came in 2013 when the Bengals dropped a close game in overtime by a score of 22-20. The Bengals put together a crazy second half comeback, down 17-3 with 7:37 left in the third quarter and taking the lead by a score of 20-17 with 1:24 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Bengals’ defense allowed the Dolphins to drive for a field goal after they took the lead and let the game slip into overtime on a Caleb Sturgis field goal.
The Bengals’ defense held stout in the overtime period, although their offense was unable to finish off their first overtime drive and allowed a safety on the second drive. Cameron Wake ended the game with an eight yard sack on Andy Dalton in the Bengals’ own endzone. It was the first of two painful overtime losses on the season, but even more painful was Geno Atkins tearing his ACL in that 2013 Halloween matchup with the Dolphins. Atkins was lost for the season and returned in 2014, but the setbacks of losing half of his previous season and most of the offseason limited his production that year. He didn’t return to his Pro Bowl form until 2015, when he was once again a wrecking machine. We may just see that wrecking machine out in force on Thursday night.
2016 is a new season in which the Bengals are expected to run away with their first win against the Dolphins in the Dalton-Green era. Hopefully, we don’t see a repeat of many of the poor performances we’ve seen from the Bengals in this matchup over the years.