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Game Preview: Dolphins at Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (77) during an NFL football game against the New York Jets on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019 in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (77) during an NFL football game against the New York Jets on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019 in Cincinnati.

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In Cincinnati, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12). Broadcasters are Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), James Lofton (analyst) and Michael Grady (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Bengals this week travel to Miami, where they will take on the Dolphins on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Cincinnati stands at 1-13 on the season, after falling 34-13 at home to the New England Patriots last week.

"There was a lot to be pleased with that happened in the game," said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, "but ultimately, we lost by 21 points. It got ugly at the end, so that part was frustrating."

Cincinnati led after one quarter against New England and controlled much of the first half, thanks to a surging ground attack and relentless defense. The Bengals opened the game offensively with a nine-play scoring drive, which started with eight consecutive runs and was capped by an eight-yard TD pass to TE Cethan Carter — his first career reception.

The Bengals applied consistent pressure to Patriots QB Tom Brady in the first half, sacking him twice and hitting him on three other instances. Cincinnati's defense, which entered the contest ranked 31st in yards allowed, held Brady to just 128 passing yards and a 51.7 completion percentage (15 of 29) on the day.

But turnovers would be the Bengals' undoing. QB Andy Dalton threw four INTs in the game, the first three of which occurred in the third quarter. Dalton's first INT set up a Patriots TD, and his second was returned 64 yards for a score.

What had been a three-point deficit for the Bengals at halftime ballooned to a 17-point disadvantage, 27-10, midway through the third quarter. Cincinnati was then forced to move away from its ground-heavy game plan and attempt a comeback through the air, but New England's pass defense proved to be worthy of its No. 2 NFL ranking.

"They won the turnover battle, and when you win that — 70 percent of the time — you win the game," said S Shawn Williams. "And at the rate that they did it, it's probably 100 percent. When a team takes the ball away from you five times, that team should not lose the game. It shouldn't even be close."

The Bengals this week will look to get back on track in Miami, a place that holds significant meaning to more than a few people inside Paul Brown Stadium (see Bengals-Dolphins connections). Six Bengals coaches, including Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, previously served as assistants with the Dolphins. A seventh — defensive quality control coach Jordan Kovacs — played for the Dolphins as recently as 2015. Additionally, three Bengals — HB Giovani Bernard, DT Geno Atkins and OT Bobby Hart — attended Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High School, just a 20-minute drive from Hard Rock Stadium.

Miami enters Sunday's matchup 3-11, after a 36-20 loss on the road to the N.Y. Giants last week.


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The series: Miami has been the second-toughest opponent the Bengals have encountered in their 51-year history, based on series winning percentage. The Dolphins hold a 16-7 edge, including 1-0 in postseason, for a .696 success rate. The Dolphins' overall winning percentage against the Bengals trails only the San Francisco 49ers (12-4, .750).

The Bengals have won the last two meetings — 22-7 in 2016 and 27-17 in '18 (both at Cincinnati) — as well as four of the past seven, dating back to 2004. However, Miami previously had won nine straight meetings from 1978-2000, and the Dolphins lead 7-2 overall (including postseason) in games played in Miami. The Dolphins won the last meeting in Miami on a safety in overtime in 2013, 22-20.

The one playoff game in series history was an AFC Divisional contest, won 34-16 by the Dolphins at the Orange Bowl in 1973.

Bengals-Dolphins connections: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2012-15. He served as assistant QBs coach in 2012 and QBs coach from '13-15, and was interim offensive coordinator for Miami's final five games of '15 ... Bengals HB Giovani Bernard, DT Geno Atkins and OT Bobby Hart all attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Bernard is from Boca Raton, Atkins is from Pembroke Pines, and Hart is from Fort Lauderdale ... Bengals OT Isaiah Prince was a sixth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in April and was with Miami through Week 13 ... Dolphins C/G Keaton Sutherland was originally a college free agent signee of the Bengals in May, and played in one game (Game 3 at Buffalo) for Cincinnati earlier this season ... Bengals CB Torry McTyer was originally a college free agent signee of the Dolphins in 2017, and was with the team through the '19 preseason ... Bengals CB Greg Mabin is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Calvary Christian Academy) ... Bengals G/OT John Jerry was originally a third-round draft pick (73rd overall) of the Dolphins in 2010, and was with Miami through the '14 season ... Bengals G John Miller is from Miami (Miami Central High School) ... Bengals OT/G Fred Johnson is from West Palm Beach, Fla., and played at the University of Florida ... Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap played at the University of Florida ... Dolphins CB Linden Stephens played at the University of Cincinnati ... Dolphins T Adam Pankey is from Hamilton, Ohio (Hamilton High School) ... Dolphins LBs Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker both played at Ohio State University ... Dolphins DE Taco Charlton is from Pickerington, Ohio (Pickerington Central High School) ... Dolphins G Michael Dieter is from Curtice, Ohio (Genoa High Schools) ... Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is from Louisville and played at the University of Louisville ... Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2012-17 ... Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2014- 15 ... Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2016-17 ... Bengals defensive quality control coach Jordan Kovacs was a college free agent signee of the Dolphins in 2013, and was with the team for parts of three seasons ('13-15) ... Bengals assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2014-15 ... Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner was on the Dolphins' coaching staff from 2012-13 ... Bengals linebackers coach Tem Lukabu coached at Florida International University in 2015 ... Dolphins defensive pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer is from Heath, Ohio, played at Muskingum College from 1996-99, and coached at the University of Dayton in 2001 ... Dolphins assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell coached at the University of Louisville in 1985 ... Dolphins quality control coach Matt Lombardi coached at the University of Louisville from 2014-16.

Defense turns the corner: Early this season, Cincinnati's defense struggled to find its footing and was trending toward depths no Bengals defense had previously experienced. Through the first 10 weeks this season, Cincinnati was allowing 429.4 yards per game, the most in the NFL and a mark that, had it held the entire season, would have counted as the most in team history. The Bengals were allowing 173.0 rush yards (32nd in NFL) and 256.4 passing yards (22nd) through the first 10 weeks, which, had they held, would have each ranked as the second-worst marks in team history.

But the tide started to turn in a major way, starting in Week 11 at Oakland. Since then, the Bengals have put together several impressive defensive performances, and turned areas of weakness into strengths. Since Week 11 the Bengals rank sixth in net passing yards (192.8), sixth in first downs allowed (17.4), seventh in opponent completion percentage (58.6) and eighth in opponent passer rating (76.8).

Bengals ground game rolling: After a slow start to the season on the ground, the Bengals' rushing game has surged in recent weeks.

Through their first seven games, the Bengals averaged just 53.1 rushing yards per game, and topped 100 rushing yards just once as a team. HB Joe Mixon had a notably difficult start, averaging just 36.2 yards per game and 3.2 yards per rush over that span, after leading the AFC in rushing last season (1168 yards).

It's safe to say those changes worked. Since the first game after their bye — Week 10 vs. Baltimore — the Bengals have averaged 133.8 rushing yards per game, and topped 100 yards as a team in four of six games.

Mixon, the former face of the Bengals' struggling ground game, has been perhaps the league's most productive runner over the last six weeks. Since Week 10, Mixon leads the NFL in rushing attempts (130), ranks second in rushing yards (605), has topped 100 rushing yards three times, and has topped 100 yards from scrimmage four times. Those low rushing averages from early in the season have also flipped — he's averaged 100.8 yards per game and 4.7 yards per attempt since Week 10.

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