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The Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night captured their second consecutive win, evening their record at 2-2 after defeating the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 27-15. The game was overshadowed, though, by the scary injury to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Late in the second quarter, Tagovailoa was sacked by Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupuo, and in the process of being brought to the ground, his back and head banged against the field surface. Tagovailoa was immediately in obvious pain, and his fingers went into a Fencing position, which is an involuntary response to head trauma. Tagovailoa — who was controversially allowed to re-enter last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills after sustaining what was initially described as a head injury but later referred to as a back injury — was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. The Dolphins reported that he is alert, talking, and has feeling in his extremities, and the Amazon broadcast stated that he is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday night and travel back to Miami with the team.
Tagovailoa was relieved by Teddy Bridgewater, who performed admirably in his stead, but threw a late-game interception when the Dolphins had a chance to take the lead in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. He and tight end Mike Gesicki had a miscommunication, with Bridgewater throwing a hot route against the blitz but seeing the ball whiz past Gesicki’s head and into the arms of Vonn Bell, because Gesicki ran an inside route and the throw was outside.
In the absence of Byron Jones, the Dolphins elected to have Xavien Howard shadow Tee Higgins for most of the game, while doubling Ja’Marr Chase on the opposite side. The strategy was largely successful until Higgins beat Howard for a 59-yard touchdown from Joe Burrow, and then had to leave the game due to an aggravation of his groin/glute injuries. Miami’s backup cornerbacks were then overmatched against Higgins and Chase, who later set up the game-sealing score with a deep catch of his own.
Below, you’ll find takeaways from this Thursday night slugfest as Cincinnati knocks Miami from the ranks of the unbeaten. For a recap of this game, check out the live blog below.
The Bengals offensive line did an excellent job protecting Joe Burrow in this one, which significantly contributed to their 13-point barrage in the fourth quarter to upend the Dolphins. Burrow finished 3 of 6 on throws of 20-plus air yards, throwing for 138 yards and a touchdown — the 59-yard pass to Tee Higgins to give Cincinnati a 14-6 lead late in the second quarter.
Higgins had a big day with seven catches for 124 yards and that touchdown, but Burrow also threw for 287 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He has five touchdowns to just zero interceptions in his last two games, which Burrow has only been sacked four times (including once Thursday).
When Cincinnati protects Burrow, points get on the board.
The Dolphins did have a fourth quarter lead without their starting quarterback, but their third down and red zone conversions were seriously lacking. Miami went 2 of 10 on third down and 1 of 3 in the red zone, only getting one touchdown on those attempts.
The defense also allowed the Bengals to score on each of their possessions that weren’t kneel downs, as Cincinnati gained 167 yards in the final quarter and scored 13 points. Miami allowed 7.6 yards per play and only sacked Joe Burrow once in the game, allowing him to make the big plays downfield.
With just over three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and down five points, the Dolphins were driving. On second down, just six yards away from the red zone, Bridgewater dropped back and tried to quickly hit tight end Mike Gesicki in the middle of the field. The throw was behind Gesicki, and Vonn Bell recorded his second interception of the night.
Vonn Bell making a case for Defensive Player of the Week 🔒 pic.twitter.com/NeUP6I9lqJ
Burrow then took over in enemy territory, and the Bengals extended their lead to 12 points five plays later on a two-yard Hayden Hurst touchdown.
The Garnet Thor secures the TD 😤 #TNF | 📺 @NFLonPrime, @WCPO pic.twitter.com/sXbvthvV8t
With Tagovailoa out due to his head/neck injury, you had to wonder how Bridgewater would respond. Late in the third quarter, he looked deep and found a streaking Hill for a gain of 64 yards!
This play set up a Miami field goal, which gave the Dolphins their first lead of the game.
Teddy Bridgewater & Tyreek Hill connect on a 64-yard gain. #MIAvsCIN on Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/Phmgdb9VGl pic.twitter.com/2Tpd9kzoRZ
Check out this second angle of the bobbling catch:
.@cheetah brings in a 64-yard catch. #GameDayCoverage
Bridgewater’s pass traveled 61.4 yards in the air, the longest completion by air distance this season.
🔹 Completion Probability: 29.7%#MIAvsCIN | Powered by @awscloud pic.twitter.com/DpZKQeyXOH
The Dolphins will stay on the road for Week 5, and take on the rival New York Jets. As for the Bengals, they will hit the road as well, and pay a visit to Baltimore to play Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on “Sunday Night Football.”
The Bengals travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens on Sunday Night Football next week. The Dolphins have 10 days to heal up before they taken on the Jets in Week 5. Hopefully, Tua Tagovailoa is able to make a full recovery.
Cincinnati will move to 2-2 here. Miami drops to 3-1. The Eagles are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL.
Ja’Marr Chase FINALLY gets free down the field. Beats an overmatched backup corner back with an inside move to get up the field. Great route, great throw.
Looked like a miscommunication. Teddy fired that so quickly. And behind him. Potential game-sealing INT. Note I said potential.
Mike Gesicki was not looking for the ball. Teddy threw hot when he saw the blitz coming and it was a good throw.
What a move by Teddy. Stepped up into the pocket, then reverse-pivoted away from pressure to scramble for the first down. Really heads up.
Sam Hubbard has been solid tonight. He has at least two tackles for loss now.
57-yard field goal from McPherson puts the Bengals up by 5 points. Puts a lot of pressure on the Dolphins to get a touchdown on their next drive. Might not get the ball back if they have to punt it away.
Back-to-back catches for Tee Higgins with Xavien Howard on the sideline with his injured groin/glute.
Was just about to say the Bengals D needed to step up! Big drive here for Cincy. Let’s see if Burrow can lock in. Maybe …. get away from Mixon a bit.
What is with these teams and runs right up the middle behind bad offensive lines on third-and-short?
—> MIA (15) @ CIN (14) <—
CIN has 4th & 1 at the MIA 1
Recommendation (VERY STRONG): 👉 Go for it (+7.6 WP)
Actual play: 👟🏈 E.McPherson 19 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-C.Adomitis, Holder-K.Huber. pic.twitter.com/t7pAVkTXPA
Another deep ball to Tyreek coming this drive?
Receptions on throws 40+ air yards
2022 Tyreek Hill 3 (most in NFL)
2021 Dolphins 3
Bengals’ scoring drive: 74 yards on nine plays. Was sparked by that 43-yard catch and run by Tyler Boyd. Cincy settles for the field goal after running three times from inside the three yard line. Bengals fans not happy, but Zac Taylor gets the lead back. 17-15.
Oof. Three straight runs and then a 19-yard field goal? That is… not good game management from Zac Taylor.
Maybe try throwing at the goal line? Just once?
Did Mixon get in on that third down??? From the side it looked like maybe…
Boyd was entirely uninvolved until taking over the last three plays. Really nice route to sell the corner but come back across the field.
Notable injury here given how the Dolphins have aligned themselves in coverage:
Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (groin) questionable to return
That’s a great throw from Tyler Boyd. His Chase in the hole between the corner and the safety, and like they said on the broadcast, he needed to put some zip on it.
Cincinnati’s offensive line did a really nice job on the first drive of the game, but has been very underwhelming since. Dolphins defensive front mostly controlling things.
That was a very similar play design to the one where Tua threw his interception earlier. Both involved a fake outside handoff from shotgun, Waddle running a crosser, and Hill going deep down the middle.
WHAT A CATCH BY TYREEK HILL. Holy cow.
Bridgewater seems locked in on Sherfield. He’s got 6 targets now, only 1 behind Tyreek Hill.
Bengals got man coverage across the board on third-and-6 and tried to take a shot to Chris Evans. Burrow just let it a couple yards too far. Now we see if Miami can mount a successful drive here.
In this case, the call would be One-Double 1, because Ja’Marr Chase is the one being doubled.
If you’re curious about the coverage the Dolphins are using tonight vs. Chase and Higgins, here’s Bill Belichick explaining it to Chad Ochocinco back in the day.
When Bill Belichick told @ochocinco he was going to get double-covered in a preseason game 😂 (Aug. 20, 2009) @Patriots pic.twitter.com/RCNxYyrEaN
Dolphins mostly rolling with Mostert in the backfield tonight, without much success. Granted, Edmonds has not had much success, either. They can’t get the run game going at all. But Cincinnati has been good against the run so far this season as well.
Miami’s defensive backs are very sticky in man coverage. Doing a great job on one of the best WR corps in the league so far. The shot over the top to Higgins is really the only blemish.
Looks like the second-down play should have been called an interception:
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