Though the score didn’t necessarily show it, the Cincinnati Bengals thoroughly dominated the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football—particularly in the first half. It was a stark contrast from the past two weeks, as the Bengals often played with the lead and rebounded nicely to a 2-2 record.
There were a number of good performances from those in the white-out uniforms, but there were others that still left a lot to be desired. Here are some winners and losers from the Bengals’ Week 4 win over the Dolphins.
Mike Nugent: After a terrible preseason, fans were calling for the veteran kicker’s head. However, coming into the Week 4 matchup, Nugent was 7-of-8 and hit a three more in the first half alone. With the Bengals’ offensive struggles on critical downs and territories on the field, Nugent came up huge with his 16 points of the Bengals’ total of 22. He now leads the NFL in field goals, though, some other kickers will likely catch up to him this week.
Bengals Linebackers: Technically, Vontaze Burfict just suiting up and playing makes him a winner in Week 4. However, solid play from both Karlos Dansby and Rey Maualuga led to a good night from the group. Vincent Rey also had a couple of nice plays against the run and the pass, so the middle of the defense came up huge against a Dolphins offense who liked to use yards-after-the-catch plays to guys like Jarvis Landry in the middle of the field.
Adriel Jeremiah Green: After two straight weeks filled with drops and average performances, the Bengals’ star receiver stepped up huge on the national stage. At one point in the third quarter, A.J. Green had more receiving yards than what the entire Dolphins offense netted at that point. No. 18 came down with two miraculous catches off of poor deep throws from Andy Dalton and carried the offense on Thursday night. Green finished with 10 receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown.
A.J. Green made this look easy pic.twitter.com/vYGuhn3U0H— Jeanna (@jeannathomas) September 30, 2016
The Defensive Line: When you sack the quarterback five times in a single game, it’s a solid night from the front four. Throw in 10 hurries and seven total knockdowns of Ryan Tannehill and the defensive line had a quality night. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap were omnipresent, while Will Clarke continued his impressive rotational duty in 2016. For reference, the Bengals had more sacks against Miami than they had in the previous three games combined.
Ken Zampese: Whether it was in short-yardage, third down or red zone situations, Zampese’s offense again sputtered. Whether it was the offensive line breaking down, drops from guys like C.J. Uzomah and others, or predictable play-calling, Zampese’s offense squandered four solid opportunities for touchdowns through the first three quarters alone and settled for Nugent field goals on each.
The inability to run the ball and make plays in critical situations continues to be an Achilles heel for this team. After not gaining significant positive yardage on first and second downs, the Bengals were in continuous terrible third down situations, which led to a 3-of-15 conversion rate on the most important down in football.
Bengals Safeties: Even though they atoned later on, weaknesses in the secondary were obvious on the Kenny Stills touchdown grab in the first quarter. Shawn Williams and George Iloka were responsible for the Dolphins’ only score on a blown coverage, but did play well later on down the stretch.
Rush Offense: Good Lord. Whether it was 3rd-and-1 or opportunities inside the Dolphins’ five-yard line, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard had to fight for everything they accomplished to gain any semblance of yardage. Hill was particularly tough on the night, breaking tackles with frequency, but the lack of a running game made this contest much closer than it should have been.
The Offensive Line: Though the Dolphins were only credited with one sack, the line played poorly. Whether it was the aforementioned run game issues or stupid penalties, the once-proud group just didn’t show up with the same fervor we have seen over the past couple of years. To make manners worse, Clint Boling left the game with a shoulder injury.