On Thursday night, the Miami Dolphins were missing their starting left tackle and their top two centers due to injuries. Additionally, their starting right tackle has been playing so poorly that he was benched in overtime the week before.
"We knew they had a couple of issues with the O-line so as a defensive line we wanted to go out there and expose that," said defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
In Cincinnati's 22-7 win, the Bengals' defensive line dominated, holding Miami to 62 rushing yards and sacking Ryan Tannehill five times.
"Those boys are animals," said safety George Iloka. "(Defensive coordinator) Paulie (Guenther) says that all the time. It starts with the D-line. He doesn't say it because it sounds cool. We go as far as they take us. When they play how they usually play, it makes the job easier for the rest of us. They put on a clinic out there tonight."
Dunlap finished with two sacks, two pass deflections, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Geno Atkins had 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, and a tackle for loss. Will Clarke added a sack for the third straight game and Michael Johnson added a half sack and two quarterback hits.
"Yeah, I heard some people questioning our pass rush, but they can't say that now," said linebacker Vinny Rey. "Dunlap, Geno, Will, Michael – guys were just rushing the passer very well. And conversely, we're doing a great job of covering and make the quarterback hold the ball."
Except for Miami's second play of the game. The Dolphins stunned the Bengals with an early haymaker when Tannehill hit Kenny Stills with a 74-yard touchdown pass to give Miami an early 7-3 lead.
"That was a desperato play," said Dunlap. "They knew what their situation was so they wanted to put points on the board quick. They got us on one play but we didn't flinch and we got back to what we do best and kept them out of the end zone for the rest of the game."
"We have a motto to just play the next play," said Clarke. "That wasn't something that we worried about because we have faith in our offense and defense. Stuff like that's going to happen in the NFL."
"We got the win, but I'm still salty about that play," said Iloka. "Everybody was trying to calm me down, but I was mad because we're better than that."
The Bengals defense showed it over the final 54 minutes of the game as Miami never drove past the Cincinnati 35 yard line on its final 10 possessions.
"It was the defense's goal to dominate," said Clarke. "We've been playing like ourselves kind of, but we haven't been finishing out games. That's what we set out to do in this game. Coach Guenther told us in the meeting right after our last game that we were going to go back to the drawing board and play like us."
In short, the defensive line played like the group that's been the backbone of a defense that's finished in the top 10 in fewest points allowed in four of the last five years.
"They were outstanding," said cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris. "We've got a great group of guys up front and they showed up tonight."
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Cincinnati Bengals take on the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium in week 4 of the regular season 9/29/2016