8:25 PM ET, October 31, 2013
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL
The visiting Bengals look for a fifth consecutive victory while trying to hand the Dolphins a fifth straight defeat Thursday night.
Paced by the recent strong play of quarterback Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (6-2) is the only team in the division at .500 or better, and it's in position to win five in a row for the second time in three seasons.
"We're very good," safety Chris Crocker said. "We're very, very, very good. But we have to play like it."
The Bengals have scored 103 points in the last three games, largely because of Dalton. The third-year player has passed for at least 325 yards in each of those contests and became the first Bengal to throw 11 touchdowns over a three-game span.
Dalton, intercepted just twice in that stretch, threw a career-high five TD passes in a 49-9 home win over the New York Jets on Sunday.
"This is where I want to be," said Dalton, who had five TDs and five INTs through the first five games. "This is how I want to be playing."
A second-year pro playing alongside star A.J. Green, Jones finished with career highs of 122 yards and eight catches. He's recorded six of his team-leading seven touchdowns in the last three games.
"He's had the potential since he's been here," Dalton said. "I think he's just comfortable with everything that we're doing and everything that we're asking him to do."
The defense is ranked fifth in the NFL with 18.0 points allowed per game and eighth with 322.5 total yards given up. Cincinnati recorded four sacks and returned two interceptions for touchdowns Sunday during its most lopsided victory in coach Marvin Lewis' 11 seasons.
However, Lewis wants his team to move on and get focused on Miami during this short week.
"We've got to be the best team Thursday night, plain and simple," he said. "It's us and the Dolphins and, we've got to be the best team. There's no other challenge. We knew the schedule. That's the way it is. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. You come, be ready to go."
The desperate Dolphins' four-game slide is their worst since a seven-game skid to open 2011. Miami (3-4) blew a 14-point halftime lead at New England on Sunday, getting outscored 24-0 in the final two quarters of a 27-17 loss.
"Obviously we aren't at an all-time high right now," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "But we've got to get back on track. That's the only option we have with a short week."
Though the Dolphins have been outscored 67-24 in the second half of the past four games after outscoring their first three opponents 41-16 in the final two quarters, they've led in each of the last three contests. They've held the lead or been tied in the fourth quarter of two.
"We have to do a better job to close out games," said receiver Mike Wallace, who has two 100-yard receiving games and one TD in his first season with the Dolphins. "We just have to step on their throat. We can't let up, that's all -- the whole team, in all three phases."
Tannehill has thrown five TDs in the last two games, but seven of his nine interceptions have come in the past four. He boasts a 60.9 fourth-quarter passer rating and has been sacked a league-high 32 times, with the latter playing a big part in his five lost fumbles.
Brandon Gibson has caught three of Tannehill's 11 touchdowns, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Patriots.
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have helped Miami rush for 276 yards in the last two games, including a season-high 156 against the Patriots. The Bengals are eighth in the league with 97.2 yards per game allowed on the ground, though they're likely to be without starting middle linebacker Ray Maualuga after he injured his knee and suffered a concussion against the Jets.
Miami coach Joe Philbin still believes his team is capable of getting back on track.
"If you don't have a strong locker room, if you don't have good character individuals, I think it could be a concern," he said. "I have a lot of faith in our guys. I believe in them. I think we'll get this thing right and fixed. We have to do it quickly; this is a good team coming in here on Thursday night."
Miami has won the last two meetings with the Bengals, both in Cincinnati. The most recent came last Oct. 7, when Tannehill didn't throw a touchdown or an interception and the Dolphins picked off Dalton twice in a 17-13 victory. Green had nine receptions for 65 yards and a score.
More from ESPN.com
Leah Still Challenges Riley Curry To Dance-Off
Two of sports' most famous daughters are showing people how it's done.
Philbin: Didn't come to Dolphins to be average
The Dolphins have finished 8-8 each of the past two years, but coach Joe Philbin told ESPN.com on Saturday that he didn't come to Miami to be average.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||18.4||23.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CIN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CIN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Miami leads 3-2|
|Oct 7, 2012||CIN 13, MIA 17|
|Oct 31, 2010||CIN 14, MIA 22|
|Dec 30, 2007||CIN 38, @MIA 25|
|Sep 19, 2004||CIN 16, MIA 13|
Andy Dalton is 15-of-23 (65.2%) passing 15-plus yards downfield during the Bengals' four-game win streak. The league average completion percentage on those passes is 41.0%.[+]
Andy Dalton Passing 15+ Yds Downfield - This Season
Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a NFL-worst 32 times this season, and it's not as if he's holding on to the ball too long. Tannehill ranks 8th out of 33 qualified QBs in average time before pass (3.3 seconds) but only Terrelle Pryor has been sacked on a higher percentage of his dropbacks. Pryor, by comparison, averages 4.2 seconds per pass, which ranks last in the NFL.[+]
Ryan Tannehill - This Season
Geno Atkins has been a force to be reckoned with since he became the Bengals starting defensive tackle in the 2011 season. He leads all defensive tackles in sacks and forced fumbles during that span, while playing the third-most snaps. Geno Atkins had 12.5 sacks last season, the most by a DT since La'Roi Glover in 2000.[+]
Geno Atkins Ranks Among Defensive Tackles Last 3 Seasons
142 rush yds is the Dolphins most in a 1st half since Week 17 2002 vs the Patriots
Andy Dalton was 3-for-11 passing when the Dolphins rushed a defensive back, throwing three interceptions and getting sacked for the "walkoff safety." Since 2009, only David Garrard has thrown as many interceptions in those situations (Week 2, 2010 vs Chargers).[+]
Andy Dalton vs DB Pass Rushers, Thursday vs Dolphins
- Adds number of games in column With at least 300 passing yards, three TD passes and a 100 passer rating on Thursday Night Football at Miami, Andy Dalton will join Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young as the only players in NFL history to register four such consecutive games.[+]
The Dolphins ran for a season-high 157 yards, including 85 yards after contact on Thursday. Entering the game, the Bengals had allowed 33.9 yards after contact, ninth-fewest in the league. - Lamar Miller's 57 yards after contact (on 16 rushes) against the Bengals was the most Cincinnati has allowed in a game since Week 5 of the 2011 season (Maurice Jones-Drew, 60 yards after contact on 19 rushes).[+]
Dolphins Rushing, This Season
Andy Dalton was 4-for-11 for 78 yards and an interception on throws of at least 15 yards downfield Thursday. During the Bengals' previous four games, all wins, Dalton led all qualified quarterbacks, completing 65.2% of such throws.[+]
Andy Dalton Passing 15+ Yds Downfield, This Season
- Ryan Tannehill was 6-for-8 (75%) for 82 yards targeting Mike Wallace Thursday, also drawing a crucial 38-yard pass interference call in overtime. Over the previous four games, all losses, Tannehill was 18-for-42 (42%) for 246 yards and two interceptions targeting Wallace. - The Bengals dropped five of Dalton's throws on Thursday, their most in a game since Week 11 of the 2007 season. - A.J. Green had a career-high 19 targets Thursday, catching 11 balls. He gained 94 of his 128 receiving yards on third downs, his career-high on such situation. - Giovani Bernard averaged 7.4 yards after contact per rush, including 39 yards after contact on his 35-yard pitch in the third quarter.
Andy Dalton: 3 TO, most since Week 6 2012 vs Browns
ESPN Stats & Information