Turning Points: Five Key Plays From Bengals-Dolphins

The Dolphins played a strong first half against the New York Giants on Sunday before things started going downhill after halftime in a 36-20 loss.

We examine the five biggest plays of the game.

1. Mike makes it two

Because of the game going to overtime, what happened to get the Dolphins their big lead inevitably got overshadowed a bit. It certainly looked like the Dolphins were headed for a blowout victory when tight end Mike Gesicki won a one-on-one battle in the end zone with cornerback Darqueze Dennard for his second touchdown of the game. The score, on Ryan Fitzpatrick's fourth TD pass of the game, gave the Dolphins a 28-6 lead midway through the fourth quarter. There didn't seem any way at that point that the game would end the way it did.

2. The missed field goal

It didn't seem like a major deal at the time because the Dolphins still had a 35-19 lead and there was only 3:07 left in the fourth quarter, but Jason Sanders' missed 47-yard field goal attempt — for which he would make up later — kept Cincinnati within two scores and able to tie the game with two touchdowns and two two-point conversions. The missed field goal came right after Myles Gaskin was tackled for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-1 from the Bengals 27-yard line, a play on which he sustained a leg injury that led to him being carted into the locker room. Had the Dolphins been able to convert that third down, they would have been able to bleed more time off the clock and the missed field goal would have been been inconsequential.

3. The open-field tackle

After Cincinnati scored touchdowns on its final three possessions of the second half, the Dolphins defense came through in overtime. After the Dolphins punted after one first down to start overtime, the Bengals began their drive at the 5 needed only a field goal to win. On third-and-5, quarterback Andy Dalton completed a short pass to speedy wide receiver John Ross running across the middle. Cornerback Nate Brooks had tight coverage and tackled Ross a yard short of the first-down marker, forcing the Bengals to punt.

4. The pass breakup

Cincinnati had much better field position the second time it had the ball in overtime and faced a third-and-6 from its 40-yard line. A couple of first downs from there would have put the Bengals close to or in field goal position, and Dalton again looked for Ross. This time, Ross ran a short out pattern, but cornerback Nik Needham jumped in front of him and knocked the pass down with his left hand to force another punt. The Bengals wouldn't see the ball again on offense.

5. The completions to Isaiah Ford

The Dolphins' third drive of overtime didn't get off to a great start, with Fitzpatrick throwing incomplete passes on first and second down. On third-and-10, he moved to his right in the pocket and threw a 15-yard completion to Isaiah Ford to keep the drive alive. The Dolphins were at the Cincinnati 42 at the two-minute warning, still needing some yards for a realistic field goal attempt. Fitzpatrick dropped pass and hit Ford again, this time on a slant and Ford turned upfield for a 28-yard gain to the Bengals 14-yard line. From there, it was simply of matter of Sanders knocking through another field goal attempt and his kick was right down the middle this time. Ballgame. Dolphins win.

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