The first quarter of the NFL season is in the books, and the difference between good and bad teams is still hard to decipher.
For the Cincinnati Bengals, they seemed to have shaken off most of the rust from Weeks 1 and 2. They enjoyed a long weekend after winning two games in five days and are now tied for first in the AFC North. It’s never easy (or predictable) playing on a short week, but a gutsy primetime win over the Miami Dolphins has them in a great position entering October.
Here’s how the snaps played out on Thursday night.
A tie at 64! Each team ran the same number of plays and Miami gained just seven more total yards (378) compared to Cincinnati (371), but the Bengals scored seven points off of two Dolphins interceptions, which helped them win by two scores. The Bengals were also eight for 15 on third down compared to the Dolphins’ two for 10 effort.
Life without D.J.
This was the first of several weeks the Bengals had to play without star nose tackle D.J. Reader. Josh Tupou (41), as expected, got the start for Reader, and the Bengals adapted their defense accordingly. They stuck to their four-man fronts throughout the night and called on rookie Zach Carter (24) to relieve Tupou and B.J. Hill (57). Neither Jay Tufele nor Jeff Gunter got in on the rotation up front despite being active, though Gunter did make an impact on special teams with his blocked field goal.
Committed for better or worse
Any noise regarding the Bengals’ running back rotation seeing change this week wasn’t coming from inside the building. Joe Mixon (53) saw a full workload once more as Samaje Perine (12) was on the field almost exclusively on passing downs. Chris Evans (3) hardly played as well. Mixon’s struggles persisted against a solid Dolphins’ front, and it seems Zac Taylor and run game coordinator Frank Pollack aren’t wavering in their attempts to get their lead back going.
After years and years of early-season benchings and injuries, the Bengals’ offensive line has established some form of familiarity with one another. All five starters have played 100% of the first four weeks of the season. This hasn’t happened since 2012, with 2016 being the closest in recent years. Hakeem Adeniji (6) got in on some jumbo packages, but the starting five has stayed healthy and together, creating a foundation for growth as the year progresses.
Bengals’ snap counts vs. Dolphins
|Jessie Bates III||S||64||100%|
|Stanley Morgan Jr.||WR||1||2%|