The Good, the Bad and the Dolphins: Week 13, 2020 — Defense Dominates as Miami Tops Bengals, 19-7

by Mike Ferguson
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Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins

For the first time since 2016, the Miami Dolphins won’t finish with a losing record.

The Dolphins assured that would be the case on Sunday with a 19-7 home victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. For Miami, the win was its seventh in eight games.

It’s a little later than usual, but we stick to tradition by breaking down what went well and what did not in Sunday’s victory:

The Good

For the first time in nearly two months, the Miami Dolphins exceeded 400 yards in total offense. The Dolphins finished with 406 yards against Cincinnati.

Powering the offensive attack was rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Alabama product finished with a career-high 296 yards passing and a touchdown. Tight end Mike Gesicki finished with a career-high nine catches for 88 yards and caught Miami’s only touchdown.

On the ground, the Dolphins started slow, but finished strong. Miami tallied 110 yards on the ground, led by Myles Gaskin’s 90 rushing yards. That’s the highest total for any Miami rusher since Gaskin went for 91 yards in a 24-0 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 18.

Defensively, Miami lived in the Cincinnati backfield. The Dolphins finished with a season-high six sacks and 11 tackles for loss for the win.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy set the tone with a team-high eight tackles and career-highs of three sacks and five tackles for loss. Shaq Lawson added two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the victory.

Miami also extended its streak of consecutive games with a takeaway to 18. Xavien Howard recorded his league-leading eighth interception early on before Nik Needham put it away with a pick of his own late.

As a whole, Miami held Cincinnati to just 196 yards of offense — a season-low for the Dolphins’ defense. The Bengals managed just 15 yards total in the second half. They went just 3-for-12 on third down and averaged just 2.4 yards per rush.

On special teams, Miami also had a nice day. Jason Sanders was 4-for-4 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Punter Matt Haack averaged 45 yards per punt on four kicks. Two of those were downed inside the 20-yard-line.

The Bad

Despite moving the ball at will throughout the day, the 19 points for Miami was the lowest at home all season. For the third week in a row, the Dolphins failed to exceed 20 points.

Miami missed multiple opportunities to put the game away. The Dolphins managed just one touchdown on four red zone trips. Gaskin was also stripped inside the 30-yard-line after a 26-yard run on his final carry.

On third downs, Miami went just 1-for-10. The Dolphins committed eight penalties for 54 yards, including a formation penalty that negated a touchdown.

Defensively, the one sore spot was Cincinnati’s lone touchdown. On a wide receiver screen, cornerback Byron Jones took a horrible angle, which led to a 72-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Tyler Boyd. That is the longest play allowed all season by Miami.

Perhaps the ugliest part of Sunday’s contest was when things got chippy. Howard and Boyd were each ejected for what amounted to little more than a shoving match.

In the second half, Cincinnati’s Mike Thomas hit punt returner Jakeem Grant early — clearly a cheap shot. That led to a benches-clearing brawl. Also in the contest, Bengals’ safety Shawn Williams was seen stepping on the back of Miami lineman Solomon Kindley’s leg.

The Dolphins

With the win, Miami improved to 8-4 and remains in second place in the AFC East This is Miami’s best record through 12 games since 2003.

The Dolphins still sit a game back of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and as the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff race. Miami and Indianapolis currently occupy the final two playoff spots. They’re a game ahead of both the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.

Things will get tougher this week as the Dolphins play host to the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are 11-1 and tied for the best record in football. The contest begins at 1 p.m. ET and airs regionally on CBS.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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