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Rapid React: Bengals vs. Dolphins

Dalton Del Don
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Bernard's Breakout (USAT)

Thursday night’s Bengals/Dolphins game started slow but had a wild finish, ending with a safety in overtime for just the third time in NFL history. The victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Dolphins, who nearly blew a second-half 17-3 lead for the second week in a row. The biggest story of the night was Giovani Bernard, who had a coming out party in front of a national audience only to leave late with a rib injury.

Bernard gained 79 yards on just nine carries (he once again wasn’t getting the ball enough even before he was forced from the game), scoring two touchdowns, including one that might be the favorite for run of the year. Seriously, how ridiculous was that? He broke at least five tackles and made Brent Grimes look silly not once but twice. Bernard also caught all four of his targets for another 25 yards receiving. He entered without gaudy broken tackle numbers (six) on the year, but Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s fifth most valuable back anyway, despite him seeing a modest 270 snaps. Let’s hope Bernard’s rib injury isn’t serious and he starts getting more touches moving forward.

After getting 9.9 YPA with an 11:2 TD:INT ratio over his previous three games, Andy Dalton got 6.4 YPA and posted a 0:3 TD:INT ratio Thursday. He had to deal with numerous drops (most egregiously by Mohamed Sanu but also surprisingly including a terrible one by A.J. Green on third down), but this was a poor performance by October’s AFC Offensive Player of the Month. He’s somehow on pace to throw 28 touchdowns this season despite tossing zero in three games. Dalton has clearly made strides during his third year, but he remains inconsistent and not an elite fantasy option despite the recent hot streak. Brad Nessler had just finished saying how Dalton had been intercepted only one time in his career in the red zone (where he had a 45:1 TD:INT ratio) when he proceeded to throw a pick-six on the very next play.

It was actually fairly remarkable Ryan Tannehill, who entered on pace to finish with the second most sacks in NFL history, was taken down just three times considering Miami’s patchwork offensive line (the Jonathan Martin story sounds sad). Although that might’ve had something to do with the Bengals losing Geno Atkins to a potentially serious knee injury, which would be brutal news to a defense already missing three of its starters for the year. Atkins, who entered with the second most QB hurries among D tackles, is easily one of the best defensive players in football.

Lamar Miller has now totaled 241 yards over the past two weeks, getting 41 touches over that span. He’s up to 4.8 YPC on the season and has been targeted 10 times in the passing game over the past three games after seeing just five looks over the season’s first five contests. He likely would have been given even more touches Thursday, but he was briefly benched after losing a fumble. And as good as Miller looked otherwise, the fumble play was head scratching. Why didn’t he just run to the left, which almost certainly would have resulted in an easy touchdown? Poor vision aside on that play, Miller was highly impressive and hopefully continues to separate himself from Daniel Thomas down the stretch. The RB landscape right now in fantasy football might be as dire as it’s ever been, so him becoming something even close to a workhorse would be a welcome sight.

I actually did think Brian Hartline got both feet in during his big catch late in the fourth quarter, but how is that not at least reviewed? The booth blew that…Early in the third quarter, a Jermaine Gresham hold prevented yet another Marvin Jones TD. It would’ve been Jones’ seventh score over the past four games….Facing a Dolphins defense that entered having allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Gresham and Tyler Eifert combined to secure just six of 11 targets for 47 yards and no scores…With 1:29 left in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-four, I’m not sure why the Bengals attempted a pass that went 40 yards in the air…Miami didn’t run an offensive play in the third quarter until 2:03 was left…The over/under was 42.5 points in most places, so you're either feeling really lucky or are extremely upset right now if you bet that considering the total was 40 entering overtime...Cameron Wake was a beast, recording three sacks and both forcing and recovering a fumble.

During a 4th-and-1 situation in the first quarter, Mike Mayock said the Dolphins should definitely kick the field goal. When Caleb Sturgis then missed the 34-yard attempt, making him successful on just one of his previous six attempts, there was no second-guessing the decision making (or his own recommendation). I promise he (and this goes for every announcer/color commentator) would’ve criticized them if they had gone for it but fallen short. This drives me crazy (and of course, regardless of outcome, the no-brainer decision there was to go for it)…After getting beaten by Mike Wallace in overtime, Terrence Newman smartly tackled him, as a 38-yard pass interference penalty was better than a game-ending 86-yard touchdown, and I especially appreciated it as someone facing Wallace in a fantasy league.

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