NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 13 PFF ReFocused: Miami Dolphins 19, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (88) makes a one handed catch in front of Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Miami Dolphins‘ defense cracked down and played up to their usual 2020 standard as the Dolphins pulled out the 19-7 victory.

Miami moves to 8-4 and officially a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, while the Bengals drop to 2-9-1 and on their way to a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

Cincinnati’s early touchdown was a well-designed 72-yard catch and run by wide receiver Tyler Boyd, but the Dolphins' defense pitched a shutout after that early mishap.

The Bengals offense averaged just 3.2 yards per dropback outside of the 72-yarder as the Miami defense had a dominant outing. They allowed just -0.21 expected points added (EPA) per play to the Bengals’ offense, with the pass-rush coming through with one of their best games of the season. The Dolphins sacked Bengals quarterbacks six times to go with one of Miami’s two interceptions coming due to pressure, as well.

Cincinnati had little opportunity to get anything going offensively, as the Dolphins got top-notch performances from linebacker Kyle Van Noy, cornerback Nik Needham and defensive linemen Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. Three out of those four players were not with Miami a year ago, showing just how valuable the offseason defensive additions have been for the Dolphins.

Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen finished with a reasonable stat line due to the 72-yard score that was largely out of his control, and he failed to complete any of his four attempts thrown at least 10 yards in the air.

On the other side of the ball, Dolphins rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa had another up-and-down outing, with his best throw coming on a deep post dropped by WR Jakeem Grant. We saw an equally lucky dropped interception on the same drive. Tagovailoa finished 5-of-13 for 91 yards and a score on 10-plus-yard throws, including two drops.

The offensive star was TE Mike Gesicki, who caught nine of his 11 targets for 88 yards, one touchdown and a game-high five first downs. Gesicki won at the catch point in the end zone on his one score, and he proved to be the most difficult cover for Bengals defenders on the day. Credit must go to the Miami offensive line as well, as they did a fine job of protecting Tagovailoa on perhaps their best pass-protecting game of the season.

The Dolphins didn’t need much offensively, but they rode a dominant defensive effort and took another step toward the playoffs.

Rookie Report

Bengals WR Tee Higgins caught five passes for 56 yards as his strong rookie season continues. He moved the chains on four of those five catches.

Linebacker Logan Wilson has a solid game against the run on his 40 snaps.

Miami’s three rookie offensive linemen played a solid game, as offensive tackles Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt were a big part of Tagovailoa’s pass protection while guard Solomon Kindley was strong in the run game.

Lynn Bowden Jr. was used extensively, as well, catching four passes for 41 yards and carrying once for 11 yards on a career-high 32 snaps.

Miami interior defensive lineman Raekwon Davis has emerged as an excellent run defender in recent weeks, and that matches the skill set he showed in college. He added little on his 13 pass rushes.

Cornerback Noah Igbinoghene didn’t allow a catch on his one target across 18 coverage snaps.

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