Bengals’ victory overshadowed by injury to Dolphins’ Tagovailoa
11: 14 PM ET
ESPN Staff Writer
- ESPN Staff Writer
- Previously, a college football writer at The Dallas Morning News
- University of North Texas graduate
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Miami Dolphins 27-15 on Thursday night, but head and neck injuries suffered by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the second quarter were the story of the game at Paycor Stadium.
Thursday night’s game between the Bengals (2-2) and Dolphins wasn’t pretty, but Cincinnati was able to gut out a victory in the end.
Cincinnati won’t be complaining about how it got the win, however. The Bengals opened the season by suffering back-to-back defeats. Cincinnati lost its opening game of the season to the Bengals in back-to-back losses. The Bengals pulled off a win, just like last year.
Describe the game in two words: Prime-time malaise. Cincinnati was slow on a showcase night for Bengals but still managed to win another game on Thursday Night Football. “
Sell a breakout performance: Bengals running back Joe Mixon looked good early on the team’s opening drive when he picked up steady chunks of yards and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season. Mixon’s production slowed down over the course the game. It took 17 carries for Mixon to hit 50 yards, which isn’t the efficiency Cincinnati’s coaching staff wants for its rushing attack. Mixon was stopped at Miami’s 1-yard-line on third-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
QB breakdown: Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t have one of his better showings against Miami, and the proof is in the NFL Next Gen Stats. Excluding throws behind the line of scrimmage, Burrow completed his first 10 passes of 10 or fewer air yards. On intermediate throws between 10 and 19 air yards, however, he missed on his first five attempts. Burrow was able to overcome any struggles with some deep passes that moved the offense, including a 59-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins.
Troubling trend: Well, let’s talk about the offense again. Things didn’t look good for Cincinnati for the third time in four matches. Paycor Stadium fans booed the offense at least two occasions. There were a couple of bright spots, but the lethargic showing for the first three quarters will be disconcerting for those hoping the Week 3 win against the New York Jets meant the offense was turning the corner. — Ben Baby
Underrated statistic to know: The Bengals scored an opening-drive touchdown for the second straight week. They had two opening-drive touchdowns last season.
Next game: at Ravens (8: 20 p.m. ET, Oct. 9)
The Dolphins (3-1) lost to the Bengals in their first prime-time game of the season, losing their title as the AFC’s last unbeaten team in the process. But none of this felt particularly important.
Not on a night when Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was immobilized and taken off the field on a stretcher after suffering head and neck injuries that sent him to the hospital. This was the second consecutive week Tagovailoa was unable to play after he hit his head on the ground. He was also injured last week.
The Dolphins reported that Tagovailoa was conscious, and had movement in his extremities at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. According to the broadcast, Tagovailoa was expected to be released and return to Miami with the team.
QB breakdown: While preparing for the possibility of Tagovailoa not being available for Thursday’s game, coach Mike McDaniel said situations like these are why you sign a veteran like Teddy Bridgewater in the first place. Bridgewater is more a game manager at this stage in his career than someone who drives an offense. His highlight was a 64-yard pass to Tyreek Hill that put Miami deep in the red zone. He also threw an expensive interception in the fourth quarter.
Breakout performance: Raheem Mostert took a commanding grasp on the Dolphins’ backfield with 69 rushing yards on 15 carries. He has looked like the team’s best back for the past three weeks and was rewarded with the primary share of the workload, out-touching Chase Edmonds, who had five carries for 6 yards and two catches for 14 yards. Mostert also gained an early touchdown when Edmonds dropped one. He will continue to lead the way until he loses his hot hand. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Underrated statistic to know: With a 64-yard reception in the third quarter, Tyreek Hill already has as many 60-yard receptions this season (2) as he did over the past two seasons (one in 2020, one in 2021).
Next game: at Jets (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 9)
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.