The Bengals won. People wrote stuff. Here's what they wrote.
From Peter King, NBC Sports...
I think Cincinnati’s win over Miami taught me three things: Thou shalt never again take 30-year-old franchise defensive disruptor Geno Atkins (two sacks, six on the year now) for granted … Third-round rookie defensive Sam Hubbard was a steal for the Bengals last April, and he continued to show it with a spry 19-yard game-clinching fumble return for touchdown … And that was a gut-check win, with 24 points in 13 fourth-quarter minutes to embarrass the Dolphins. Glad I picked the Bengals to win the AFC North, because after five weeks, Cincinnati is the team that not only has the division lead but also is the most solid team top to bottom in the division.
From Marc Sessler, NFL.com...
Cincy's defense was a major concern after lashings by the Panthers and Falcons, but Sunday marked their most complete showing all season. Beyond the two defensive scores that put this tilt to bed, the Bengals Miami's ground game in check in the second half and limited Tannehill to 169 total yards at 5.3 yards per toss.
From Jay Morrison, The Athletic....
There are several common threads running through Marvin Lewis’ tenure as Bengals head coach, one off which involves a common use of threads.
The Marvin Lewis T-shirt has become an annual tradition, and an annual punchline as the slogans he picks for the shirts often are hokey:
“Do your job”
“Pound the rock”
“Challenge the moment”
Sometimes they’re just confusing. Remember “Run on your own gas”?
But this year’s slogan – “Strain to finish” – seems to be resonating.
From Bill Barnwell, ESPN.com...
Can the Bengals continue to come up with huge defensive plays late in the fourth quarter to swing their games? No, probably not. They've now created four takeaways in the final three minutes of regulation across their first five games this year. To put that in context, the league leaders in that category last season were the Eagles, who had seven. After producing four defensive touchdowns over a three-year period from 2015-17, the Bengals have three defensive scores in five games.
After getting off to a 4-1 start, though, it might not matter. At the moment, FPI projects the 6-seed in the AFC to be the Chargers, who would have an average of 8.9 wins in that scenario. The Bengals would need to go only 5-7 over the rest of their schedule to get to nine wins, which should be enough to get into the postseason as a wild-card team. They still have winnable home games to come against the Buccaneers, Browns, Broncos and Raiders to help the Bengals get there. FPI projects Marvin Lewis' team for for 10.1 wins right now. Ten wins would be a virtual playoff lock.
If they want an express train to further credibility, of course, the Bengals can overcome their own nightmares this week.
From Albert Breer, MMQB....
Quietly, Marvin Lewis’s bunch has emerged at the front of the AFC North pack at 4-1, and so much of it is predicated on the revival of the offense behind a revamped line and new coordinator Bill Lazor. And so it was that the first half of Sunday’s game against Miami cropped up as a pretty significant speed bump—Cincinnati was shut out, and the Dolphins’ lead bulged to 17-0 just after the break.
“Certainly the last few games, it didn’t go like this,” Lazor said afterward. “And being at zero at halftime put us in a whole new spot. It’s not a disappointment—even though we don’t like the result—if we learn from it. And I think that’s what this group will do. And what you have to be most proud of with this team, and it’s a young team overall, is the way they were in the locker room. We talked about it—’Hey, here’s what we’re going to do.’ There’s going to be no panic. And we went out and did it.”
There were personnel changes in the offseason too, and significant ones. Trading for left tackle Cordy Glenn and drafting Billy Price were part of a big effort to overhaul the offensive line. Joe Mixon and John Ross were going to get bigger roles in Year 2. And though injuries have slowed some of those plans, the difference is evident.
Just as big, though, was the promotion of Lazor to coordinator. After Marvin Lewis worked out a deal to stay in Cincinnati, he made the tough call of moving on from an assistant, Ken Zampese, who’d been on his staff since Lewis got the job in 2003. In his place, and taking the torch Jay Gruden and Hue Jackson once carried, would be the QBs coach, Lazor.
From Katherine Terrell, ESPN....
There’s something about the 2018 Bengals that just feels different. From Clayton Fejedelem’s scoop-and-score to beat the Colts in Week 1, or Shawn Williams' strip sack to help beat the Ravens in Week 2, or even the Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection that signaled the go-ahead touchdown against the Falcons last week, it's all been wacky and weird.
When they seem most likely to lose, they pull out the win in the most surprising of ways.
From Paul Dehner Jr., Cincinnati.com...
The Bengals are again alone atop the AFC North and have four wins in four very different ways. They've been carried by the offense, the defense, by turnovers, come from behind, play from ahead and by dramatic finish. They all add up to a team that knows how to win.
Even if they are well aware few have been picking them to do so.
"Nobody gave us a chance when the season started," A.J. Green said. "Why do they believe in us now? We're going to continue to keep playing and keep playing for each other."
Meanwhile, the Steelers (2-2-1) rolled the Falcons. They come to Paul Brown Stadium next. Any real changing of the guard in the North and narrative nationally will always run through Pittsburgh for this club.
The Bengals look more ready than ever to make it happen. This team's simmering through five weeks comes to a boil next Sunday.
From Pro Football Focus...
The Bengals offensive line did a good job at keeping Andy Dalton on his feet in this one, but it wasn’t a perfect game in pass protection. When Dolphins pass-rushers opted to use a bull rush to power through Bengals offensive linemen, they were able to get some good push, which compressed the pocket and eliminated the opportunity for Dalton to climb.
Cincinnati’s talented defensive line took over in the second half. Geno Atkins was his usual dominant self. Carl Lawson was the primary beneficiary of Laremy Tunsil‘s departure and repeatedly beat the backup late in the game. And, of course, Carlos Dunlap effectively put the game out of reach late with a strip sack that was returned for a score.
William Jackson III bounced back from a rough outing in Atlanta last week, forcing multiple incompletions in the first half and surrendering little in the way of positive plays when he was targeted in coverage.
Give the Bengals credit, not only for capitalizing on Miami’s mistakes, but for winning for the third time this season when staring down a second-half deficit. This was an insane comeback effort by a team whose theatrics are both endearing and nerve-wracking. And you’re not alone if you’re starting to believe the 2018 Bengals’ propensity for pulling out close games portends something special down the road.
But most teams that have special seasons get some kind of outside help along the way. If the Bengals end up having a special season of their own, the Miami Dolphins will be credited with an assist.
(Photo: Getty Images)