The Miami Dolphins traveled to Cincinnati this week to take on the Bengals in an early season Thursday Night Football matchup. The Dolphins are unable to mount a comeback after losing quarterback Tagovailoa.
After having to leave early from Miami to avoid getting stuck due to Hurricane Ian, it was clear the Dolphin’s defense was feeling the effects of travel, the short week, and being on the field for 41 minutes last week against the Bills. On the first drive of the game, the Bengals drove the ball 75 yards in nine plays between a mix of penalties and Joe Burrow slicing the Dolphin’s secondary.
The Dolphins responded with their own nine-play drive that spanned 70 yards, but it only resulted in a field goal due to Chase Edmunds’ huge drop on third down in the endzone. The Dolphins drove down the field with ease against the Bengal’s defense, divvying up the to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both on the team’s inaugural drive.
The Dolphin’s defense stiffened up after that forcing two punts and getting a fourth down stop when the Bengals decided to run a toss play to the short side of the field on fourth and one. The Dolphins offense continued to drive the ball into field goal range, though Jason Sanders 52 yard field goal early in the second quarter was blocked, and he doinked an extra point of the right upright. Another special team gaffe for the Dolphins on the season.
Disastrous turn for Dolphins. Right after Tua is stretchered off, Jason Sanders' FG is blocked. Another special teams problem for Miami after KO return vs. Ravens and Butt Punt vs. Bills. — Hal Habib (@gunnerhal) September 30, 2022
The play everyone will talk about today though is when Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dropped back with about six minutes left in the second quarter. He was body-slammed by Bengals’ defensive tackle Josh Topou. The timing of the hit was fine, slamming him to the ground when you roll tackle, however, is not. Fortunately for Topou, the refs didn’t flag him last night, though I expect a fine from the league will be coming.
I won’t link the video or hound on it too much. It deflated the offense, you could visually see it, even if you were watching from your living room. Teddy Bridgewater played better than I think most expected, through the first half anyways. He made a crucial mistake on the fourth-quarter drive where the Dolphins were down by five and in Bengal territory and he overthrew tightened Mike Gesicki. Bengals Safety Von Bell intercepted the ball and returned it to the other side of midfield, securing the Cincinnati victory.
Dolphins Fall Short, But Optimism Remains
With the loss, the Dolphins fall to three and one on the year, but there is plenty to be excited about for Dolphins fans. The defense held its on most of the game and proved again to be a “bend but don’t break” unit. Only surrendering two field goals in the second half and then a trash time touchdown at the end of the game that makes the game look less competitive than it actually was.
The offense moved the ball at will with Tua at the helm, so I’d be lying if I said the Dolphins and Dolphins fans are ready for him to return when he’s fully healthy. Mike McDaniel will have to gameplan differently with the quarterback change, at least for the Jets game next Sunday on the road. Tyreek Hill still put up a great stat line pulling in ten passes for 160 yards.
If you watched the game, it may have seemed like the Dolphin’s defensive line didn’t get after the quarterback like one might think when facing an offensive line that’s given up a league-leading 15 sacks. While they didn’t get Burrow to the ground as much as they should have, Jaelen Phillips posted an 89.8 PFF overall grade, led the team in pressures, and was a stud in the run game.
Miami Dolphins Look Forward To Week Five
Coach Mike McDaniel stated that Tua’s injury was a concussion and nothing “more serious”, so with a ten-day break and barring bad news on the second opinion they’re going to get, Tua could be back in Week Six when the Vikings come to Miami. The main thing is they make sure he’s 100 percent before letting him return to action. Tua has shown he has what it takes to be the guy in Miami, so the Dolphins need to think about the long-term ramifications.
Even with Bridgewater at the helm, the Dolphins have a favorable matchup with the New York Jets next week. With news coming out that Zach Wilson will play, it should be a fun matchup. Hopefully, the ten days off will be enough for Xavien Howard to get healthy from his lingering groin injury. Week Five should be the week we get to see Byron Jones back in uniform.
The main thing is the sky is the limit for this Dolphins squad. They were still in the game last night until the very end and had multiple opportunities to even win the game. The defense is definitely our stronger unit, but the offense is still showing us that Mike McDaniel can scheme people open and stretch the field. After some said the Dolphins would start two and two at best, sitting at three and one and atop the AFC east is a pretty great position to be in going into the easier part of the schedule.