Thursday night football has not always provided the most enthralling football this season but after a sluggish first half this game lit up and went into overtime, as the Dolphins pulled out the win with one of the more unique endings of the year.
With the game tied at 20-20 in overtime and the Bengals backed up on within their own ten-yard line, Andy Dalton dropped back to pass on 3rd and 10. Defensive End Cameron Wake ripped through the middle of the offensive line, tackled Dalton just as the quarterback stepped back into his own end zone for a safety.
Game over, Dolphins win.
Dalton, who had been in an impressive run of form over the past few weeks, made far too many errors throughout the game. The third-year quarterback had three passes intercepted; two on errant throws and a third from a tipped pass by receiver Mohammed Sanu.
Miami started off well, showing some dominant play running the ball with Lamar Miller, but they failed to capitalise and missed out on scoring opportunities as Miller fumbled and kicker Caleb Sturgis missed an easy field goal.
The Bengals were able to claw their way back into the game after being down 17-3 midway through the third quarter, mostly due to the remarkable play of rookie running back Gio Bernard.
Bernard scored one of the runs of the season early in the fourth quarter. After almost being tackled for a loss he escaped, cut back across the field and followed blockers up the sideline before making several more Dolphins defenders look silly as he cut back inside and skipped past them on his way to the end zone.
Tied at 17-17, both teams managed to squeeze out late field goals to take it to overtime. Both teams squandered possession and resorted to playing for field position until the Dolphins and Wake finally came up with the game winning play.
All in all it was a crushing defeat for the Bengals in more than one respect. All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins went down in the second quarter with an injury and it’s now been reported that he has torn his ACL in his right knee.
The loss of Atkins was a devastating blow for a Bengals defence that struggled to get any pressure on Tannehill after his exit against one of the worst offensive lines in the league. After this his absence looks to be an even bigger loss as the Bengals find themselves at 6-3 without their best defensive player and other key injuries on that side of the ball.
For the Dolphins, they once again failed to properly close out a game they controlled early in the second half. After Brent Grimes returned an interception for a touchdown the Dolphins allowed the Bengals back into the ball game just as they did with New England last week.
Luckily this time they managed to pull through and get themselves back to .500 at 4-4 and are firmly in the wild card hunt. However, rumblings of unrest still hang over this team from criticism of offensive co-ordinator Mike Sherman to the problems of right tackle Jonathan Martin.
The Dolphins again ran the football well with over 150 yards rushing, but again didn’t utilise it enough in the second half. Whilst the Dolphins defence did an admirable job against a good offence, Miami still lacks any ability to make big plays in the passing game.
Mike Wallace finished with 82 yards on the day, a respectable number, but Miami needs to figure out a way to allow Tannehill time to get the ball down the field if they are going to be able to make a run for the playoffs.
After an entertaining game on Thursday night the Bengals fall to 6-3, still atop the AFC North but with the loss of Atkins and a vital game against the Ravens next week they could find themselves in a dog fight for the division title.
Meanwhile the Dolphins pulled out a win that they desperately needed after losing the previous four. They did not do it in convincing style but they move to 4-4 and keep their season alive with an upcoming Monday night match-up with the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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