A grim Marvin Lewis called it right away. It's the kind of AFC loss at home that can haunt. For the first time in the Green-Dalton era, the Bengals lost a home game to a team with a losing record and for just the second time anywhere. They are now 7-2 going back to last season in games against teams that come into the game with losing records.
"We let an opportunity get away today. We've got to put the ball in the end zone," Lewis said after Sunday's 17-13 loss to the Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium. "We had opportunity (three) times at the end of the game."
After the Bengals cut the lead to 17-13 with 14:15 left in the game on quarterback Andy Dalton's two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver A.J. Green, the defense forced three punts. But the offense went punt, missed field goal, interception.
"We were just flat today," Green said. "We didn't help our defense at all."
Talk about symmetry. The TD was Green's 100th career catch. His first NFL catch was also a TD. Elias reports that Green is the first player in NFL history to reach 100 catches (101), 1,500 yards (1,550), and 11 TDs by his 20th game not counting the postseason.
Green rolled his ankle at the end of the first half, got it taped, played the second half and looked a little gimpy.
But he said "I'm fine" after finishing with 65 yards on nine catches.
LEWIS CALLS: Lewis raised eyebrows when he didn't go for it on fourth-and-5 from the Dolphins 23 with 3:05 left in the game and tapped Mike Nugent for a 41-yard field goal attempt. Nugent, 9-for-9 this season, sliced it right.
"I thought we'd stop them and get the ball back again and kick a field goal to win the game," said Lewis, whose team did get the ball back with 1:45 left before Dalton threw an interception when he overthrew wide receiver Andrew Hawkins down the middle at the Dolphins 47.
Asked if he thought about going for two points after the Green touchdown Lewis said, "Looked at it but we're in the beginning of the fourth quarter. You're going to wait until you get a little farther into the fourth quarter to worry about that. We kind of got our legs back under us on defense and we were stopping them and we had found our way on offense I thought for a little bit there. I didn't expect that would be our last score of the day."
SCOTT FEARS: The Bengals feared that running back Bernard Scott had suffered a season-ending ACL tear on a run from the Dolphins 4 late in the first quarter when safety Reshad Jones dropped him for a three-yard loss.
That would be a tough loss because of the speed Scott brings and that appeared to be why the Bengals put him in so early in their efforts against the NFL's top-ranked run defense on Sunday.
His 29-yarder, when he broke a gang tackle at the second level and broke it, is the longest run against the Dolphins this season and he finished with 40 yards on five carries. Scott has had a tough year from the get-go. He broke his hand on Aug. 2 and missed the first two regular-season games. He made his debut in Washington, injured his ankle in Washington and missed last week In Jacksonville.
FIRST MISS: Nugent fully expected to be called on to make the field goal.
"There was plenty of time left. Make the kick and it cuts it to one and then I hit a touchback and we get a three-and-out," Nugent said. "There was plenty of time."
Nugent had been perfect for the preseason and regular season and he wasn't exactly sure why he didn't get enough of it with his toe. He thought his alignment was good and he knows the operation was good.
"I'm eager to watch it on film," Nugent said. "My contact on the ball was kind of a weak toe. I kind of slapped it, It wasn't one of those that started out nice and just hit the wind. It started out right all the way. I did it three times in warmup."
When it rains it pours. The usually reliable Bengals special teams also gave up Kevin Huber's deflected punt that led to Miami's first touchdown. The 25-yarder early in the second quarter put the ball on the Dolphins 37 and Miami scored nine plays later.
CHAD SURFACES: This was supposed to be the game when Chad Johnson, the Bengals all-time leading receiver, made his return to PBS with the Dolphins before his arrest for domestic abuse got him cut during training camp. But he showed up anyway. There was a Chad sighting after the game in the Bengals equipment room, where he greeted players and coaches. He also chatted with Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham at their lockers.