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 place, 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.
Why the Bengals won
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.
Why the Dolphins lost
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 knee 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.
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.
Play of the game
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.
Check out this second angle of the bobbing catch:
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.”