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Week 16 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 35, Miami Dolphins 38


What you need to know

Cincinnati Bengals

-Andy Dalton led an incredible comeback late that saw the Bengals score 23 points in the final six minutes to force overtime.

-Joe Mixon played less than half of the snaps and didn’t look himself playing through a flu bug.

-Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert keyed the late comeback, combining for three late touchdown catches.

-Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and Alex Erickson were the only three receivers who played offensively and each saw at least nine targets.

Miami Dolphins

It was pegged as a battle between teams fighting for spots atop this years’ draft, but it ended up being one of the best games of the day. Miami built a big lead going into the 4th quarter before a late collapse and giving up 23 points, a Hail Marry, and a 2-point conversion for Cincinnati to tie the game with no time left. With the win, Miami moves to 4-11, and the loss clinches the number one overall pick for the Bengals. Ryan Fitzpatrick was dominant all game and Miami featured Myles Gaskin out of the back field instead of Patrick Laird. Mike Gesicki found the end zone twice and DeVante Parker continued his resurgent season. The defense played a bend but do not break brand of football and it almost back fired in the end. The Hail Marry to Tyler Eifert at the end of the game was ugly coverage by the defense and the big tight end boxed everyone out for an easier than normal score for a last-ditch effort. Miami closes the season against New England and is staring squarely at a top 5 pick in the draft this year.

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 90 offensive snaps, Pass: 33 - 56 - 396 - 4 TD / 0 INT
It felt weirdly appropriate that with most Bengals fans rooting for a loss to lock up the top draft pick and a shot at selecting Dalton’s replacement that Dalton would lead one of the most dramatic comebacks of the NFL season. His play was mediocre for over three quarters and then, out of nowhere, he led three touchdown drives in the final five minutes and converted a pair of two-point conversion attempts to come back from 23 points down to force overtime. Dalton threw his first touchdown pass of the game late in the third quarter, hitting Tyler Boyd with a well-thrown fade deep down the left sideline on 4th-and-3 for a 34-yard touchdown. The furious comeback began in earnest midway through the fourth quarter. Dalton led a long, 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that he finished off with an 8-yard touchdown over the middle to C.J. Uzomah. He got the ball back with three minutes to play and led a methodical 14-play touchdown drive that finally resulted in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 30 seconds left. A successful 2-point conversion pass to Tyler Eifert made it a one-score game. After an onside kick, Dalton had 29 seconds and no timeouts to go 54 yards. He picked up a big chunk with a 29-yard pass to Tyler Boyd deep down the seam. As time expired, he threw it up in the middle of the end zone where Tyler Eifert leaped above a crowd and came down with a 25-yard touchdown. On the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt, nobody was open but Dalton scrambled and was able to race into the end zone to tie the game up and force overtime. He used up all of his magic in regulation, however. Both overtime possessions went three and out.

RB Joe Mixon, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 50 - 0, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (2 targets)
News broke about an hour before kickoff that Mixon had been dealing with a stomach bug and would be at less than 100% for the game. He looked like he wasn’t quite himself in this one as the energy and burst was a bit lacking. He also seemed to be winded at times and saw a major decrease in his share of the snaps. In fact, he played 12 fewer snaps than Giovani Bernard and Mixon’s 43% share of the offensive snaps was his lowest since Week 1. He was still making the first man miss with some regularity but the explosive plays weren’t there. None of Mixon’s 21 carries went for more than nine yards. Mixon’s biggest play of the day was a 17-yard catch. He lined up out wide and ran a comeback route. He broke a tackle attempt by the safety and got loose down the sideline for the long gain.

RB Giovani Bernard, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets)
Incredibly, Bernard played 51 snaps and only managed four total touches. With Joe Mixon playing through a flu bug, Bernard rotated in on early downs more often than usual but rarely touched the ball on those snaps.

WR Tyler Boyd, 83 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 128 - 2 (15 targets)
Boyd looked like he was on his way to another solid but unspectacular fantasy showing. He caught a wheel route down the left sideline for 19 yards late in the first quarter and made a man miss on a pretty 14-yard catch and run in the final minute before halftime. Still, he had just a few catches and less than 50 receiving yards late in the third quarter. Then, the Bengals offense started rolling and Boyd started racking up the fantasy points in bunches. It started with a 4th-and-3 catch by Boyd that went for a 34-yard touchdown. He lined up in the slot and ran a fade route against single coverage. He played through a shove and made a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab down the sideline and maintained his balance to get into the end zone. Boyd was the focal point of the offense in the furious fourth-quarter comeback. He saw eight targets in the game’s final nine minute as the Bengals charged back from 23 points down to force overtime. Six of those targets actually came in the final three minutes of regulation. Boyd struck for his second touchdown on another 4th-and-3 play. This time, he took advantage of a rub from Alex Erickson to get inside position on the slant and was able to twist after the being hit to barely sneak the ball over the goal line for a 3-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left. After an onside kick, Boyd made a 29-yard grab deep down the seam to get the team in position for one shot at the end zone. It was a great performance by Boyd, who played a whopping 83 snaps and was targeted 15 times.

WR John Ross, 71 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 6 - 84 - 0 (13 targets)
Ross played his most snaps of the season (71) and trailed only Tyler Boyd with his 13 targets. He got a chance on a deep ball down the left sideline early but wasn’t able to go haul it in despite gaining a bit of separation. He was able to come down with a 34-yard catch on another fade route deep down the left sideline on the next drive, however. He was able to make the contested catch over his shoulder. Ross had two more deep ball opportunities deep down the left sideline that weren’t particularly close to being completed. One was well covered. The other Ross had a step but Dalton’s pass was off target. Ross had a drop on an intermediate route. The ball was thrown slightly outside but he had both hands on it and should have been able to pull it in for a 15-yard gain.

WR Alex Erickson, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 55 - 0 (9 targets)
Erickson was third on the team with nine targets. He was one of only three Bengals wide receivers who saw snaps in the game and played 68 offensive snaps. Like most of the Bengals offense, Erickson got off to a slow start. His only catch in the first half went for just four yards and came in the final seconds before halftime. He made one catch in the third quarter, a 19-yard grab down the seam in between three defenders. He held on despite taking a big hit to the ribs. Erickson had four short grabs during the Bengals furious fourth quarter comeback, the longest going for 11 yards on a quick out route.

TE Tyler Eifert, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 57 - 1 (8 targets)
Eifert played 57 snaps (63%), which was his second-highest total of the season. He was a non-factor for the first 50 minutes but was a key cog in the fourth-quarter comeback. He lined up out wide and got inside position on a slant route and made the grab for a 2-point conversion that brought the Bengals within one score with 30 seconds left. On a desperation heave with no time left on the clock, Eifert was able to box out a defender and make the leaping grab for a 25-yard touchdown to tie the game up and force overtime.


Miami Dolphins

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 90 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 52 - 419 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 9 - 0
It was a quick and efficient 3 quarters for Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins this week. The first drive went for 12 plays, 85 yards, and a big man touchdown. The drive was aided by a 27-yard deep pass down the sideline to Allen Hurns. The touchdown went to Christian Wilkins from 1-yard out. Wilkins is normally a defensive tackle that reported as eligible for this play. It was a 1-yard throw into the flat with Wilkins making the catch, fumbling, and then recovering in the end zone for the score. The second drive had everything to do with his connection with Parker. The duo connected on a 51-yard deep pass across the middle and then capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown. Parker got inside leverage on his man with a short slant pattern on 3rd and goal. He used his body to box out the defender and make the catch in the end zone for the score. The 3rd touchdown of the half for Fitzpatrick came on a blown coverage by the defense. Gesicki found himself wide open deep down the field and was able to back pedal into the end zone without being touched. Fitzpatrick scrambled and left the pocket causing the defense to push up and try to stop a quarterback run. This left Gesicki all alone on about the 5-yard line before Fitzpatrick delivered a strike for another easy score. The game was getting out of hand at this point with the Dolphins then scoring again on their opening drive of the second half. Fitzpatrick found Gesicki for a 13-yard score in the corner of the end zone. His initial read was across the middle on a crossing pattern, but he pulled it back down and found Gesicki in the corner of the end zone with just his man to beat. The big bodied tight end was able to go up and make the play over his much smaller defender and give the Dolphins a 28-6 lead. This is where the wheels fell off a bit for Fitzpatrick. He threw an interception on the very next drive and then the Dolphins missed a field goal to increase their lead. A blown 4th quarter lead gave Fitzpatrick a chance in over time, but both teams played it safe and traded punts for the first 4 drives. He finally completed a big play to Isaiah Ford for 28 yards and took a series of knees before Jason Sanders kicked a game winning 37-yard field goal. Fitzpatrick has shown he can still play in this league and will have one more audition against the Patriots to close out the season next week.

RB Myles Gaskin, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 55 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (3 targets)
With the struggles of Laird in recent weeks, the Dolphins went with Gaskin as their lead back this week. He had a season high 16 carries and averaged 3.4 yards per carry. That is not the most impressive line but the most important thing he did was cash in on the goal line for a touchdown this week. That is something Miami has struggled with over the course of the season and a 2-yard plunge up the middle for Gaskin showed they can run the ball between the tackles when needed. His longest run of the day went for 15 yards and he caught 1 of his 3 targets for 3 yards. No running back did a good job catching the ball out of the back field this week and Gaskin spent most of his time blocking and trying to keep Fitzpatrick upright in the pocket. He should get another chance next week against a stout Patriots defense.

RB Patrick Laird, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets)
The Dolphins have no idea what they are doing at the running back position. After starting last week, Laird was passed over for Gaskin this week. Laird had just 8 carries to 16 for Gaskin. His longest run went for 7 yards and the Dolphins failed to rush for 100 yards as a team this week. Laird does his best work catching the ball out of the back field but only had a single target for 1-yard this week. It looks like Gaskin will take lead duties again next week and Laird will have to settle for the back up role again to close out the season.

WR Albert Wilson, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 7 - 79 - 0 (7 targets)
Wilson was one of the most reliable Dolphins this week. He caught all 7 of his targets and added a rushing attempt for 9 yards. The only thing he did not do for the offense this week was find the end zone. His longest catch went for 35 yards and helped setup a touchdown. He was 3rd on the team in targets but the most important stat was his catch rate. Both Parker and Gesicki had double digit targets but caught 50% or less of those targets. Wilson caught everything that came his way and could see his target share increase next week with the Patriots top coverage men lining up against Parker. Allen Hurns: It was an all around shoot out between the Dolphins and Bengals this week, but Hurns did not play a big role. He caught a long 27-yard pass on the first drive of the game to help setup an opening touchdown but was only targeted one more time the entire rest of the game. His second catch went for 14 yards and a first down. The bulk of the targets went to Parker and Gesicki this week with Hurns lagging way behind.

WR DeVante Parker, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 111 - 1 (15 targets)
The overall stat line looks very impressive for Parker, but there were some underlying issues this week. The Dolphins clear number 1 receiver was targeted a whopping 15 times this week but only came down with 5 of those balls. That is not a great catch rate and is a big reason why Gesicki and Wilson had much better days than usual. Parker has been facing the top coverage options from opposing teams down the stretch but keeps finding ways to make big plays. His stat line this week is inflated by a 51-yard catch down the sideline that helped setup a touchdown for him on the same drive. Parker continues to take advantage of 1 on 1 coverage and using his bigger body to box out receivers. His 7-yard touchdown was a product of getting inside leverage with his body and making a strong catch with his hands. Fitzpatrick continued to force the ball in Parkers direction the entire game and that is a philosophy that will back fire next week against the Patriots. In many cases it is just Fitzpatrick throwing the ball up and hoping Parker can make a play on it. Stephon Gilmore will most likely shadow Parker next week and we could see a similar box score to when these teams met earlier in the season. Parker was held without a catch and the Patriots came away with a 43-0 victory.

TE Mike Gesicki, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 82 - 2 (12 targets)
The Dolphins finally started using Gesicki to his potential this week and increased his target share to the highest it has been all season. He had 12 different balls thrown his way this week and was able to come down with 6 of them. His longest play of the game also happened to be his 1st touchdown catch of the game. The play went for 31 yards after Fitzpatrick scrambled out of the pocket and the entire defense broke their coverage to stop the quarterback run. Gesicki saw this and worked his way down the field in to an open spot around the 5-yard line. Fitzpatrick delivered a strike and Gesicki back pedaled untouched into the end zone. His second touchdown came for 13 yards out and was the product of a great fake by Fitzpatrick. The initial read was a crossing pattern in the middle of the field, but Fitzpatrick pumped the ball and then found Gesicki in the corner of the end zone in single coverage. He put the ball up and let Gesicki make a play in the air. The big bodied tight end was able to knock down the much smaller corner in the air and come down with the ball for a touchdown. These are the type of results the team envisioned when they drafted him, and this game further solidifies Gesicki as the tight end of the future in Miami.