The Bengals were only one loss away from clinching the first-overall pick in the upcoming draft. Whether they were trying or not, they got the pick in in the 38-35 loss in Miami.
The Bengals scored 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to secure overtime, but ultimately fell in the final period of play.
Joe Mixon, who had been red-hot in the second half of the season, was battling an illness. In the first off-game in nearly two months, he only had 20 carries for 47 yards.
Tyler Boyd was one of the few bright spots for the Bengals’ offense, hauling in nine targets for 128 yards, and two touchdowns. He ended the game only 13 yards away from his second straight 1,000 yard season.
The Dolphins’ offense was firing on all cylinders, as Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 26 of his 44 attempts for 344 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Albert Wilson and DeVante Parker combined for 13 catches and 190 receiving yards.
The Dolphins looked like a far cry from a team that is trying to lose on the opening drive. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a near perfect six of seven with 75 yards and passer rating of 150.9. Allen Hurns had two catches for 41 yards, and Albert Wilson had three catches for 33 yards. Fitzpatrick finished the drive with a one-yard pass to Christian Wilkins, a rookie defensive end who was playing fullback in the goal line formation. It was the first touchdown of Wilkins’ career, and after the extra point the score was 7-0 with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
The Bengals went three and out, so the Dolphins got the ball back pretty quickly. DeVante Parker, who has been having a great season so far, took over the drive. First, he beat William Jackson on a flea-flicker for a 51-yard reception. A few plays later, he muscled away a contested catch in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown reception. With five minutes remaining in the quarter, the Dolphins were now up 14-0 after the extra point.
It took three possessions to get a first down, but the Bengals’ finally moved the sticks on a 19-yard pass to Tyler Boyd. A few plays later, John Ross hauled in his longest catch since returning from Injured Reserve to get the Bengals into the red zone. Joe Mixon added an eight yard run, but couldn’t get into the end zone on his next three carries. Randy Bullock came out for the 20-yard field goal attempt, and despite the wind the kick was good. The Bengals were finally on the board with 10:49 left in the second quarter, still trailing 14-3.
The Bengals and Dolphins traded punts for most of the rest of the quarter until about five minutes until halftime. Wilson got things going for the Dolphins with a 35-yard reception on the drive. Fitzpatrick finished the drive off with a 31-yard pass to Mike Gesicki for his third touchdown of the half. With 2:20 left in the half, Jason Sanders got the extra point to put the Dolphins up 21-3.
The Bengals did get one more scoring chance before halftime on a 57-yard field goal attempt from Bullock. After a timeout and a penalty, Bullock actually missed it twice from 52 yards. But neither counted and the third time was the charm. Bullock made the long kick and set a new career and franchise long to close out the half. The score at halftime was 21-6.
The Bengals had very little offense to speak of in the first half. The Bengals had two drive of that resulted in a field goals, but had a total of 13 yards of offense in he rest of the half.
The Dolphins in general did not look exceptional. But on offense they exploited certain matchups and broken coverages to get three touchdowns. The Dolphins only gained 37 yards in the drives in which they didn’t score, but 237 yards on the drives in which they did.
The Bengals couldn’t stay on the field on offense and couldn’t get off of it on defense. After a quick three-and-out, the Bengals had the Dolphins in a third-and-long, but a roughing the passer penalty from Nick Vigil kept the drive alive. From there, Fitzpatrick dominated, capping off the drive with a 13-yard strike to Gesicki for the score. With 8:31 to go in the third quarter, the Dolphins took a commanding 28-6 lead.
The Bengals found some offense on their next drive, and Dalton was three for five with 31 yards on his first five attempts of the drive. On fourth and three, Dalton floated one up for Boyd who hauled in the catch and ran for another 15 yards and dove into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown. The Bengals went for two, but failed, so the Bengals were now down 28-12 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
Not only was that the first second-half touchdown that the Bengals have scored since Week 7, but it was Dalton’s 200th career passing touchdown.
Darius Philips got an interception on the next drive, but the Bengals’ couldn’t hold onto it. The Dolphins strip-sacked Dalton and recovered the loose ball. Miami turned the fumble into points, as rookie Myles Gaskin scored his first career touchdown with a run up the middle. The Dolphins extended their lead to 35-12 with 11:12 to go in the game.
In typical Bengals fashion, the offense looked it’s best in the waning moments of the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach. On the next drive, Dalton was six for seven with 70 yards and an eight-yard touchdown to C.J. Uzomah. The Bengals opted for the extra point, which was good, so the Bengals shortened the Dolphins’ lead to 35-19 with 6:11 left in the game.
The Dolphins controlled the ball on their next possession, milking over three minutes off the clock. Sanders attempted a 47-yard field goal to extend he Dolphins’ lead to three possessions, but it was pulled to the left.
The Bengals made one last push, but they had used all of their timeouts on defense the drive before, so there wasn’t enough time to do much. Tyler Boyd caught a three-yard touchdown reception to keep this game interesting. Tyler Eifert caught the pass for the two-point conversion, so now the Bengals only trailed by one score, 35-27.
The Bengals recovered the onside kick, and got the ball down the field to the 25 yard line where the Bengals had one last chance to tie he game. Eifert boxed out the defense and hauled in his second touchdown as the clock ran down, so the Bengals needed the two point conversion to go to overtime. Dalton ran it in himself for two points to tie the game at 35 apiece.
Neither team could move the ball in the first few minutes of overtime, but the Dolphins finally found some offense. Isaiah Ford had two key catches for a combined 43 yards on the final drive of the game. Sanders was able to kick the easy 37-yard field goal from the Bengals’ to win the game.
With the field goal, the final score was 38-35 for the Dolphins’ victory.
The Bengals dropped to 1-14 on the year, while the Dolphins improved to 4-11. The Bengals will close the season in Cincinnati against the Browns on December 29th.