The Cincinnati Bengals earned their second straight win Thursday night, tying their record at 2-2 after beating the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 27-15. The game, however, was overshadowed by the frightening 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 taken down, his back and head banging against the court surface. Tagovailoa immediately felt obvious pain and his fingers snapped into a fencing position, which is an involuntary response to head trauma. Tagovailoa – who was controversially allowed to resume last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills after suffering what was initially described as a head injury but later called a back injury – was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. The Dolphins reported he was alert, talking and having sensation in his extremities, and the Amazon show said he is expected to be discharged from the hospital Thursday night and return to Miami with the team.
Tagovailoa was relieved by Teddy Bridgewater, who played admirably for him, but threw a late interception when the Dolphins had the chance to take the lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. He and tight end Mike Gesicki had a miscommunication, with Bridgewater launching a hot route against the blitz but seeing the ball go past Gesicki’s head and into the arms of Vonn Bell, because Gesicki ran an inside route and the throwing was outside.
In the absence of Byron Jones, the Dolphins opted to have Xavien Howard in the shadow of 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 worsening groin/gluteal injuries. Miami’s backup cornerbacks were then outclassed against Higgins and Chase, who then set the game-sealing score with their own deep grip.
Below, you’ll find takeaways from this Thursday night slugfest as Cincinnati knocks Miami out of the undefeated ranks. For a recap of this game, check out the live blog below.
Why the Bengals won
The Bengals offensive line did a great job protecting Joe Burrow in this one, which contributed significantly to their 13-point fourth-quarter barrage to topple the Dolphins. Burrow was 3 of 6 on throws over 20 yards overhead, 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, Burrow has only been sacked four times (including once on Thursday).
When Cincinnati protects Burrow, the points pile up.
Why the Dolphins Lost
The Dolphins had 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, getting only one touchdown on those attempts.
The defense also allowed the Bengals to score on each of their non-knee possessions, as Cincinnati gained 167 yards in the final quarter and scored 13 points. Miami allowed 7.6 yards per play and fired Joe Burrow only once in the game, allowing him to make the big plays on the field.
With just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter and down five points, the Dolphins were behind the wheel. On second down, just six yards from the red zone, Bridgewater backed up and tried to quickly hit tight end Mike Gesicki in midfield. 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 touchdown from Hayden Hurst.
Game of the game
With Tagovailoa out due to his head and neck injury, you had to wonder how Bridgewater would react. Late in the third quarter, he looked deep and found a Hill streak for a 64-yard gain!
That play set up a field goal in Miami, which gave the Dolphins their first lead of the game.
Check out this second angle of bobbling wrestling:
The Dolphins will stay on the road for Week 5 and face rival New York Jets. As for the Bengals, they will also hit the road and travel to Baltimore to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in “Sunday Night Football.”