Vontaze Burfict returned and the defense responded by holding Miami to one big play.
-Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth has been on teams that have made the postseason six times so while he wasn't using the must word before Thursday's game, he was using the huge word after the 22-7 victory over the Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium.
"It was huge. Huge. The next month doesn't get any easier," Whitworth said of the three road games in October. "We know that. Now we've got to get to the (Nov. 6) bye in the next four games by putting our head down."
-It was a defensive masterpiece for the Bengals in the final 54 minutes, when they kept the Dolphins out of the red zone holding them to three out of 15 on third down and to just 148 yards of offense.
All they got was that 74-yarder to wide receiver Kenny Stills on Miami's second snap of the game.
"That showed the resiliency of our team," said linebacker Vincent Rey. "We didn't back down. Nobody's thinking back to last week on Sunday. We're thinking 'every game's a new game; let's buckle down, let's be resilient (and) let's pound the rock. Let's focus.' "
_Not so much for the Bengals offense. They fell on two fumbles, they ran it 37 times for just 2.1 yards per pop, and they were 1-for-3 in the red zone.
But Whitworth was looking at three scoring drives of 90 for a TD, 80 for a field goal, and 65 for a field goal on drives that started from their own 10, 16, and 11.
"We had a lot of long drives. We were pretty good inside out 15," Whitworth said. "That decides a lot of games. The last couple of games we couldn't get out our of own 10. But we scored points tonight moving the ball. That's winning football.
"People are going to look at the red zone, but look at how many guys are brand new in our offense. In reality there's going to be a learning period. We need to get better. We'll make it better. But those kinds of drives are the difference in games. From your 10, 11, 15, change field position, put points on the board, that's big."
-As advertised, linebacker Vontaze Burfict played plenty in the first game back from his three-game suspension. Virtually no training camp. No full length practices in pads because he came back in a short week. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga estimated Burfict played 50 snaps, which would have been tough because the Dolphins only took 43 snaps. But that's how active Burfict played with three tackles and a pass defensed.
"Football shape is different, but I think I did alright," Burfict said. "I felt I could have done more, but the coaches had a plan for me and switched me in and out with Vinny (Rey) and Karlos (Dansby) and they did a good job of that. At the end of the game, I started to feel my wind catching up, but every game I'll feel like I'll get better and better and get my legs up under me."
-Mike Nugent moved past Doug Pelfrey into third place on the Bengals all-time scoring list Thursday in a big way by tying his career best five field goals. That gives him 668 points as a Bengal, moving past Pelfrey's 660 and trailing Jim Breech's 1151 and Shayne Graham's 779.
"I got a lot of opportunities tonight," Nugent said. "It's nice it happened to fall on a night where it's decently warm and there's not much wind, which makes it a little bit better."