Winners, losers of Dolphins-Bengals on Thursday Night Football originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Cincinnati Bengals are back to .500 after an 0-2 start to the season.
Their most recent victory came over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football by a final score of 27-15.
After starting the season 3-0, the Dolphins suffered their first loss of the campaign. But of greater concern is starting quarterback Tua Tagavailoa, who left in the second quarter with a terrible head and neck injury.
Here are some winners and losers from the Dolphins-Bengals game:
Loser: The NFL’s concussion protocol
Unfortunately, that’s the biggest story in what should have been an exciting matchup between the two young defenders.
Tagovailoa appeared to suffer a head injury in Week 3 against the Bills. He stumbled to the ground and sat out several games before returning from what was ruled a back injury. It is reported that there is the investigation is ongoing to the Dolphins’ concussion handling protocol.
Four days later, on Thursday, he was it hurts again after being fired in the second quarter. And this time, without a doubt, there was a head and neck injury. Tagovailoa was lifted on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital.
Injuries are a part of the game, but this was avoidable. After what happened on Sunday, Tagovailoa was clearly at risk and was limited in training all week until Thursday. The fear now is for Tagovailoa’s long-term health after he suffered two possible head injuries in a matter of days.
The winner: the Bengals’ trio of receivers
The Bengals have not one, not two, but three outstanding receivers: Ja’Mar Chase, Ty Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
With so many weapons, quarterback Joe Burrow can pick the best matchup and let his skill players shine. He did just that Thursday, often targeting Higgins for seven receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Later in the night, Barrow looked to Boyd and Chase to ice the game. Boyd took a 23-yard toss to Chase on the trick play and then hauled in a 43-yard bomb from Barrow to set up another score.
The final drive belonged to Chase, who caught the ball 36 yards for Cincy’s final touchdown of the game. He finished with four receptions for 81 yards on a “quiet” night, at least by his standards.
Winner: Start the defense
Both teams moved the ball well Thursday, but it wasn’t with much help from the run. The defensive lines were in complete control, with both squads averaging less than four yards per carry.
The Bengals had just 67 yards on 30 attempts (2.2 yards per carry). Joe Mixon led the way with 61 yards, but it took him 24 attempts to get there. He was stuffed in the red zone several times, and the only time he scored was because the pile pushed him over the goal line.
Miami was slightly more productive on the ground, managing 85 yards on 22 carries. Some of those yards came on Raheem Mostert’s 25-yard punt, but the rest of the team struggled behind the line of scrimmage. Credit to the defense in this contest.
Loser: Conservative coaches
It wasn’t exactly a low-scoring game, but there were definitely a few points left on the board. Just look at the red zone conversion rate and the distance of those field goal attempts.
The Dolphins went 1-for-3 on trips into the red zone with one touchdown and two field goals. It’s nice to get points in the red zone every time, but the 23- and 20-yard field goals showed they could have been more aggressive. When you’re inside the 10 yard line, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
The Bengals were 2-for-3 with two touchdowns and a field goal. The field goal was taken from 19 yards out after they were tackled on the goal line. While it didn’t bite him Thursday, head coach Zach Taylor needs to show some grit to win more high-scoring games later in the season.
Winner: A great match in form
On a lighter note, the audience was treated to an aesthetically pleasing game on Thursday. The Dolphins donned their jerseys and pants, while the Bengals debuted their alternating white helmets with all-white jerseys and pants.
Thinking back to just a few years ago, Thursday night football was the exclusive home of colored jerseys. While that sounds cool, it doesn’t always make for a good look (I’m looking at you and your spicy mustard forms, Jacksonville). This one-of-a-kind match was a crowd pleaser.