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Keys to victory: Dolphins 22, Bengals 20

11/1/2013

What were the keys to the Miami Dolphins' unusual 22-20 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals?

Wake up

Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake had only 2.5 sacks in his first six games of the season, but he had three of Andy Dalton in Thursday's game, including the game-ender in overtime.

It was the third overtime safety in NFL history. The others were by the Vikings against the Rams in 1989 and the Bears against the Titans in 2004.

The Bengals had all sorts of trouble against the Dolphins' pass rush, particularly when Miami blitzed a defensive back.

Dalton Passing 15+ Yds Downfield
This Season

Dalton was 3-for-11 for 20 yards and three interceptions when the Dolphins pressured him with a member of their secondary.

Dalton tied a career high with his four turnovers. One of the picks resulted in a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown by Brent Grimes, the longest returned for a score by a Dolphin since Brock Marion brought one back 100 yards against the Bills during the 2001 season.

Dalton entered the game as one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league. He had the most touchdowns and highest yards per attempt since Week 6.

Fields day

Dolphins punter Brandon Fields won what turned into a battle with Bengals punter Kevin Huber in a matchup of two of the best punters in the NFL.

Fields averaged 48.9 yards on his eight punts, netting 42.8 per kick. His 52-yarder in overtime pushed the Bengals back to their own 8, giving the Dolphins the opportunity for the game-ending sack. Fields entered the day averaging 48.8 gross yards per punt, second-best in the NFL.

The Dolphins also got what they needed from kicker Caleb Sturgis, who atoned for an early miss with a game-tying field goal with 11 seconds left. Sturgis was 2-for-3 in this win after going 1-for-4 in the previous two games.

The ground game

Miami chewed up yards on the ground early, rushing for a season-high 157 yards (one more yard than it had against the Patriots last week). The 142 in the first half were their most in an opening half since Week 17 of the 2002 season against the Patriots.

The Dolphins had 85 rushing yards after contact, the most by any team against the Bengals this season

Lamar Miller’s 105 rushing yards (57 of which came after contact) were a career best.