Thanks to an incredible second-half surge, the Bengals have moved to 4-1 on the season.
Going into the locker room at halftime trailing 14-0, everything that could’ve went wrong essentially did so for Cincinnati. Both sides of the ball noticeably lacked any signs of energy despite getting back Joe Mixon and Vontaze Burfict, the defense couldn’t stop the run, and the offense couldn’t sustain drives.
Then the second half started and they flipped the switch.
On 27-unanswered points, the Bengals completely altered the momentum in front of their home crowd and with the help of a couple of insane defensive plays, the beat the Dolphins 27-17 and remain on top in the AFC North.
Here’s a look at our winners and losers from the game:
Andy Dalton: With little help from his offensive line and no John Ross or Tyler Eifert, Dalton played admirably against a solid Dolphins defense. He threw for 248 yards on 20-30 passing with a touchdown and interception each, though the interception was off a deflection.
Joe Mixon: It took a while for Mixon to get it going, but he was the offense’s catalyst in their second half comeback. His third-quarter touchdown reception was a part of the 27 unanswered points scored in the second half. On the ground, he finished with 93 rushing yards on 22 carries. Mixon looked fully healthy in his first game back from knee surgery, and took all the carries for the Bengals running backs. Just like in Week 1 against the Colts, the Bengals offense failed and succeeded with Mixon.
A.J. Green: Without John Ross and Tyler Eifert on the field to take extra attention away from Green, the Bengals No. 1 receiver still had a productive day. 112 receiving yards on six catches is his season high and when Mixon and the running game was stale in the first half, Green kept the offense moving.
Geno Atkins: Will Atkins finish with the 19 sacks he’s on pace for? Probably not, but after a two-sack performance against the Dolphins’ battered interior offensive line, is it really out of the question? For most of the game, Atkins was the only pass-rusher winning and creating pressure, which is nothing new to the two-time All Pro.
Randy Bullock: The Bengals don’t ask for Bullock to kick a lot of 50+ yard field goals, but with zero points in the third quarter, they turned to Bullock, who knocked in a 51-yarder to start the comeback. He also made a 20-yarder later. His miss in the first half was blocked, but Bullock surprised a few people with his deep accuracy when it mattered.
Michael Johnson and Sam Hubbard: The two wackiest plays of the game were made by a pair of Bengals defensive ends. Neither Johnson nor Hubbard forced a lot of pressure, but they were in the right place at the right time when it counted. Johnson’s interception return for a touchdown tied the game at 17 and Hubbard’s fumble recovery for a touchdown made it a two score game late in the fourth quarter.
Hardy Nickerson: Early in the game, Nickerson came on to relieve an injured Preston Brown and subsequently got roasted on the game’s first touchdown. Nickerson’s lack of athleticism has hurt the Bengals defense many a time when Brown and Vontaze Burfict missed time, and the Dolphins took advantage today.
Cordy Glenn: For the third week in a row, the Bengals left tackle had trouble dealing with speed around the edge, and allowed a multitude of pressures. It was a bad day for most of the Bengals offensive line, and Glenn’s struggles are becoming more and more frequent.