1) Dolphins Need To Finish
The Miami Dolphins lost a game Sunday that they were firmly in control of and should have won in easy fashion. Some credit must go to the Cincinnati Bengals for taking advantage of a worn-down Miami offensive line, but, make no mistake, the Dolphins gave the Bengals their fourth win of the season. Miami led the game by 17 points with six minutes left to go in the third quarter, and a few efficient drives on offense should have put the game away. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's two turnovers in the fourth quarter were costly and the Bengals defensive scores proved too much to overcome in the end. The Dolphins have no one else to blame but themselves for not finding a way to grind out a win on the road.
2) Plays That Changed Momentum
Coaches always say that there will be four or five plays that will determine to outcome of a game. Well, on Sunday in Cincinnati, here are a few that changed the momentum of the contest in the Bengals favor. It goes without saying the two turnovers for touchdowns were the biggest mistakes for Miami, because they directly led to 14 points. But here's a few more that turned the momentum and stripped the Dolphins of control of the game. The first one is on offense when Miami faced a third-and-one with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. If the Dolphins find a way to convert there, it not only potentially takes another two or three minutes off of the clock, but the offense might go down and score squash any comeback attempt from the Bengals. The next two plays were personal fouls calls, one that showed a lack of self-control, and another that was a very questionable call. The dead ball penalty on Martrell Spaight for taunting was totally unnecessary and changed the momentum in favor of Cincinnati's offense. It gave them better field position, and directly led to a scoring drive on their next possession. The second penalty called on safety T.J. McDonald was very questionable because McDonald couldn't anticipate if the Bengals wide out was going to make the catch or drop the ball on their third down opportunity. That call extended the drive and continued the downward spiral for the Dolphins.
3) First Down Success is Crucial
The Miami offense ran the football with authority in the first 30 minutes on Sunday. Running backs Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake fed off of one another and averaged seven yards on first down runs in the first half. Gore did a great job of gaining yards after first contact and after he battered the Bengals in-between the tackles, Drake was able to use his speed in the running game. Drake also led the Dolphins with seven receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. The rushing attack disappeared in the second half as well as keeping the Bengals defense off balance. This allowed their pass rush and blitz packages to ramp up and Miami didn't respond well to the pressure along the line of scrimmage.