After a miserable first half, the Bengals stormed back into the game with some dominant second half play from offense, defense and special teams. Cincinnati scored 27 unanswered points to win the game, 27-17. It was sealed by a Carlos Dunlap strip sack, which turned into a Sam Hubbard touchdown and then further sealed by Jessie Bates’ second career interception to end the game. The rookies stepped up, the defense stepped up, everyone stepped up. It was a glorious second half after nothing went right in the first half.
The biggest pre-game news for the Bengals was that Vontaze Burfict was playing his his first game since serving his four-game suspension. He made an instant impact, getting three tackles in the first defensive drive and helping to force a punt from the Dolphins on the opening possession.
Andy Dalton got off to a hot start, with Bill Lazor calling the plays against his former team. Dalton completed each of his first four attempts for 62 yards, spreading the ball out to four different receivers. But the drive ended when Dalton’s pass to A.J. Green was tipped and caught by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso, setting up the Dolphins on the Bengals’ 19-yard line after returning the interception for 15 yards.
Dalton’s first bad decision is a big one pic.twitter.com/dVwT1Qguhf— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) October 7, 2018
The Bengals defense held up against the Dolphins offense in the first quarter, keeping them to only 44 yards and no third down conversions. Even though the Bengals had 109 yards on their first two drives combined, the game remained scoreless well into the second quarter.
The Dolphins broke the deadlock with a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenyon Drake. After an excellent punt from Kevin Huber, the Dolphins drove all the way from their own five yard line. The 11-play, six-minute drive was manufactured by quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s arm, with eight passing plays to only three running plays. The touchdown on the wheel route to Drake was the longest play of the drive. After the score, Jason Sanders converted the extra point and the Dolphins were ahead 7-0 with 7:22 remaining in the second quarter.
Dalton responded and found Green and Tyler Boyd for huge gains. But the Bengals faced third down later on the drive, which would become a nagging issue throughout the course of the half. The Bengals settled for a field goal, but Bollock’s 37-yard attempt was blocked, so the Bengals would come up empty handed yet again. Special teams wasn’t done messing things up for Cincinnati though.
The Bengals punted the ball away with less than one minute left in the half, but Jakeem Grant returned the punt 68 yards for the score. Sanders’ extra point was good, so the Dolphins took a 14-0 lead right before halftime. Once again, the Bengals allowed their opponent to score with seconds remaining before halftime and this one was hard to watch.
Here are some of the ugly first-half numbers. Dalton (8) had nearly half the amount of rushing yards as Joe Mixon (19).
#Bengals 0 of 5 on third down.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) October 7, 2018
168 yards of total offense
13 rushes for 27 yards.
The Bengals got the ball back and promptly punted after losing nine yards on their first three plays. Assisted by a personal foul from Michael Johnson, the Dolphins were able to get into field goal range, and Sanders knocked his 41-yard attempt through with 9:30 left in the third quarter. We never saw why Johnson was penalized...
Dalton got the offense going with a pass to Green for 22 yards, followed by a pass to C.J. Uzomah for 10 yards. But Dalton couldn’t finish off the drive after getting sacked on third-and-two, which brought the field goal unit into the game. Bullock finally got the Bengals on the board with a 51-yard field goal with 5:07 left in the third quarter to put an end to the Dolphins’ scoring run.
Green and Boyd helped get the Bengals moving downfield, as well as some Dolphins penalties. Joe Mixon recorded a 12-yard rush which was his longest run he had at that point in a game where he never had any holes to run through. But his most impressive play of the game was on the first snap of the fourth quarter. Dalton, facing pressure, was forced to throw while taking contact. Mixon, who was downfield, adjusted to the pass and beat Alonso to break the plane for the Bengals’ first touchdown of the game. With 14:54 left in the game, the Bengals were starting to make a comeback, down only 17-10 after Bullock’s extra point.
TOUCHDOWN. Bengals down 17-10 with Andy Dalton's (unconventional but totally the way its been going all game) touchdown to Joe Mixon. pic.twitter.com/9IOFPeVK6g— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) October 7, 2018
The Bengals’ momentum kept growing, and they would not trail for much longer. Tannehill faced pressure from Preston Brown and Andrew Billings, and his throw bounced off of the offensive line. Johnson gathered the ball and ran it back 21 yards for an easy pick-six. Bullock knocked the extra point through, and tied the game at 17-17 with 11:43 left in the game. Suddenly, the momentum had shifted.
TOUCHDOWN! Michael Johnson tied it 17-17 with a 21-yard pick-six. Holy amazenalls. pic.twitter.com/Uj1IESoznp— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) October 7, 2018
The Bengals defense was miles ahead of where they were in the first half, and put too much pressure on Tannehill.
Mixon finally turned up the heat on the next drive, following up an 11-yard run with a 31-yarder to get the Bengals in field goal range. Bullock came in for a 19-yard kick, and the Bengals took their first lead of the game not a moment too soon, up 20-17 with 3:30 to go in the game.
On that drive, Green caught a 10-yard pass from Dalton to make franchise history, putting him over 100 yards on the day. That catch allowed Green to have his 32nd career 100-yard game, breaking the record for the most 100 yard games in Bengals’ history.
Green over 100 and now has most 100 yard games in Bengals history with 32— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) October 7, 2018
The Bengals’ defensive line proved too much for the Dolphins yet again. Carlos Dunlap came off the edge, and, despite being held, he forced Tannehill to fumble the ball. Cincinnati native Sam Hubbard picked it up and took it 19-yards to the house for his first career touchdown. Bullock’s extra point was good, and the Bengals extended their lead to 27-17 with two minutes remaining in the game.
The Dolphins made one last push to try to get back in the game, but Jessie Bates grabbed the second interception of his career when Tannehill tried to air one out to Kenny Stills. The Bengals would get the ball with 1:35 left in the game, and even tough they punted it away, the game was too far out of reach for the Dolphins.
The score would hold and the Bengals would end up winning 27-17 to improve to 4-1 on the year. Next up, the Bengals welcome the Steelers to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.