Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill didn’t score a touchdown, didn’t set any yardage records and didn’t lead a game-winning drive. What he did was more important -- complete 65.5 percent of his throws en route to 15 first downs, and all without committing a turnover, just the second time he hasn't turned the ball over this season. The result: a 17-13 win at Cincinnati on Sunday.
The victory could be a turning point for the Dolphins (2-3, 0-1 AFC East). Miami showed it was capable of winning ugly on the road and finally executed in the fourth quarter of a close game. The Dolphins were coming off consecutive overtime losses that featured fistfuls of mistakes during the final 15 minutes of play. This time, they flipped the script against the Bengals (3-2, 1-1 AFC North).
Tannehill was more of a game-manager this week, but he routinely fit passes into tight windows over the middle of the field and wasn’t afraid of standing in the pocket and taking a hit. However, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman didn’t call many plays to stretch the field as Tannehill completed 17 of 26 passes for 223 yards. The team relied on its offensive line, but finding running lanes was difficult; Miami finished with a mere 68 yards on 35 carries. Running backs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas did each score a touchdown. However, the play calling was unimaginative and failed to test a mediocre Cincinnati defense.
Previous game's grade: B-
Defensive end Cameron Wake continued his hot play by recording a sack against the Bengals to give him 5.5 over the past two weeks. Cornerback Sean Smith also had a strong game against Cincinnati star receiver A.J. Green. Smith, who helped contain Cardinals star WR Larry Fitzgerald last week, helped limit Green to nine catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Green was targeted 13 times. Smith also posted a team-high eight tackles as he anchored a beleaguered secondary.
Previous game's grade: B
Special teams: D
Awful again. Defensive back Reshad Jones had a punt bounce off his leg that was recovered by the Bengals, and kicker Dan Carpenter missed a long field goal wide left for the third straight game. Running back Marcus Thigpen was mediocre on kick returns, and field position was rarely in Miami’s favor.
Previous game's grade: C
The offensive game plan was bland, and the special teams struggled to make a difference in a game where field position was a major factor. However, the team showed discipline as it was flagged for a mere two penalties for 10 yards. The defense also seems to be making strides, and coordinator Kevin Coyle is getting creative in ways to mask his team’s inability to defend passes in the middle of the field. It wasn’t a pretty victory, and the offense will have to continue to improve, but it was enough for the Dolphins to secure their first road win of the season.
Previous game's grade: B-
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