The Dolphins recorded their seventh victory in eight games when they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
So the weekly grades once again are generally positive again.
Tua Tagovailoa was back in the lineup and it was a pretty solid return for the rookie first-round pick. The first half was underwhelming for the Dolphins offense, Tua included, but it's hard to complain about what happened in the second half when he was 14-for-20 for 185 yards with the touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki and no picks. The one negative on Tua's performance was going 0-for-6 in third-down pass attempts, including the play when he failed to see blitzing safety Vonn Bell coming from the open side. Tua ended up passing for almost 300 yards, but it needs to be mentioned that 42 of those came on two shovel passes to Jakeem Grant. The grade would be higher also had the Dolphins scored more than 19 points. Grade: B
Like Tua, Myles Gaskin was back in the lineup after missing some time because of an injury. Gaskin finished with 90 yards on the ground, but he lost a fumble at the end of a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter that was his longest of the season. He earlier had a nice 14-yard run. Gaskin also could gain only 2 yards on three carries inside the Cincinnati 5-yard line, but he did have the big 35-yard reception on Miami's touchdown drive. Lynn Bowden Jr. had one carry out of the backfield and showed nice moves on his 11-yard gain. Patrick Laird had three carries for 3 yards and two catches out of the backfield. The fumble brings down the grade. Grade: C+
The wide receivers weren't big factors in the passing game, with DeVante Parker and Bowden sharing the team lead for that position with four catches apiece. It was a nice breakout game for Bowden, who hadn't been much of a factor before this game. Grant had a rough outing, though, outside of his two plays off the shovel passes. He could not come down with a catch on four other targets and had a bad drop of a beautiful Tagovailoa deep ball after he got behind the secondary to turn what should have been a 91-yard touchdown into an incompletion. Mack Hollins had only one catch and Antonio Callaway was not targeted during his 13 snaps. Grade: C
Mike Gesicki was the star on offense with a career-high nine catches, including a circus catch in the second half, and then the only touchdown of the game for the Dolphins. Durham Smythe had two catches, while Adam Shaheen was targeted once in the end zone. The Dolphins averaged 3.9 yards in the running game, but didn't do well in short-yardage situations. Grade: B+
The Dolphins started three rookies on their offensive line against the Bengals and the results were pretty good, especially in pass protection. Tagovailoa was not sacked and the Bengals were credited with only two quarterback hits, including the one by Bell. The Dolphins had to shuffle things around when Ereck Flowers left the game early with an ankle injury, but there were no major issues after Jesse Davis came in at right guard and Solomon Kindley moved from right to left guard. Rookie Robert Hunt had the only penalty on offense when he committed a false start. The run blocking could have been better. Grade: B-
Cincinnati finished the game with 196 total yards and 72 of them came on one play, so the defensive grades clearly will be very good across the board. It starts with the defensive line, where Emmanuel Ogbah was a major factor even though he didn't get a sack. Ogbah was credited with five quarterback hits. Shaq Lawson was listed as a defensive end in the gamebook (he's sometimes listed as a linebacker) and had two of the team's six sacks along with a pass defensed. Zach Sieler also had a sack. In the run game, Cincinnati averaged only 2.4 yards per attempt, so there was more good work in that area. The only negatives here really were offside penalties by both Lawson and Raekwon Davis. Grade: A-
Among the linebackers, Kyle Van Noy was the one who made the splash plays as he finished with three sacks and a five tackles for loss. None of the other players made splash plays, but they all contributed to the strong run defense effort. Elandon Roberts left the game in the first quarter with a chest injury and did not return. He was replaced by special-teamer Calvin Munson, who was flagged for a roughness penalty for hitting quarterback Brandon Allen late, though he was placed in a tough spot because of a late slide. Grade: A-
What else is new? Xavien Howard got another pick. But Howard also gave up a couple of completions against impressive rookie Tee Higgins and also was flagged for defensive holding before leaving the game because he was ejected. So it wasn't necessarily his best game. But a pick is a pick. Nik Needham had a really good game, with two pass breakups and his second interception in two weeks, a game-clinching pick in the fourth quarter. Eric Rowe was solid and Bobby McCain had a nice pass breakup downfield. The one negative, of course, was the 72-yard touchdown, which came when Byron Jones gave up too much cushion on a third-and-2 and then found himself blocked out by tight end Drew Sample engaged with safety Brandon Jones, allowing Boyd to get to the sideline for the long play. That's the kind of breakdown that'll bring down a grade. Grade: B
Another game, another reminder of how special Jason Sanders is. This became so crystal clear after Sanders followed a 53-yard miss by Randy Bullock by nailing a 48-yarder right down the middle on the final play of the first half. Sanders was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts because of course he was. The big story on special teams, of course, was the Mike Thomas hits on Jakeem Grant that drew two flags and led to the sideline skirmish. The Dolphins, though, had other penalties on special teams, including a holding call on Noah Igbinoghene, a false start on Mack Hollins and Hollins' blindside block on the second egregious Thomas hit. Grade: B-