Sparano’s squad improved to 4-0 away from home
The Dolphins have improved to 4-0 on the road, and 4-3 overall thanks in large part to the leg of Fins kicker Dan Carpenter. Carpenter booted five field goals and an extra point to combine for 16 total points. In all actuality, Carpenter beat the Bengals himself, who only scored 14 points.
The story of the game remained the offenses inability to find the endzone, despite finding themselves in the red-zone three times, and on the verge of entering the red-zone twice more. Miami got creative though today, in bringing back the Wildcat, as well as running an end-around to Brian Hartline that netted the Fins a 30 yard gain.
On a day where the Dolphins defense dominated the Bengals after the first quarter, the Fins offense did not really have to go out and light up the scoreboard. Quarterback Chad Henne threw for 217 yards on 24-37 passing, and one interception. For the most part of the day, Henne made some excellent reads, didn’t hesitate to throw the ball downfield, and was looking to make plays. He didn’t look lost like he did at some points this season, he did not look like a young quarterback today at all, and most of all, he did not put his team in a position to lose the ball-game.
Meanwhile the running game got back on track with their first rushing touchdown since Week 1. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 108 yards and a touchdown, courtesy of Williams.
Brandon Marshall registered 5 catches for 64 yards meanwhile, a rather quiet game for him. It seems that Marshall is not getting as many balls thrown to him as many would like. He is not being utilized as the primary red-zone target for Henne as many had imagined, which goes back to play calling. The bottom line is that the offensive coordinator, Dan Henning does not have a clue as to whom to go to when he is in the red-zone. The primary culprit for this is the lack of ability to run formations out of the two-tight end sets that Henning loved so dearly. That was the teams bread and butter formation, and once we lost David Martin and Joey Haynos, we lost the ability to score efficiently inside the red-zone.
Unlike last week, the Dolphins defense was the unit that won this game for the team. Time and again the Bengals were forced to punt after a 3-and-out. The game started off to a bad start, with the Bengals driving down the field with ease their first two drives. It looked like the game would be a shootout, or a blowout for Cincy, but then the defense started to impose their will on the opposing defense.
The big change that really changed the course of the game was the decision to switch Sean Smith for the starter Jason Allen. Allen was matched up on Terrell Owens, and got burnt early and often. But after Smith was put on Owens, he was a non-factor in the game. It appears that Allen has lost his starting spot, and we are back to thinking that he really is not an NFL-caliber starting cornerback. Smith recorded his first career interception today that all but sealed the game for Miami.
Cameron Wake finished the game with no registered sacks, but two quarterback hurries and a QB hit. There really was no pass rush on Carson Palmer all game long. In fact, there were no recorded sacks all game long.
The Dolphins escaped Cincinnati with a win today, but with the offense still not scoring touchdowns in bunches, one has to wonder just how long this charade can go on? The bottomline is that the defense bailed the offense out of this one with their spectacular play. If the Bengals were to score one more touchdown, they would have been right back in the game, but it was the play of our defense that stopped that from happening.
Next week the Dolphins face the tough Baltimore Ravens, who are coming off of a BYE week. Baltimore is one of the top teams in the league, and are even more dangerous now that they have had the extra week to game-plan for us. But the game is in Baltimore, so we have a good chance of increasing our road record to 5-0!