Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Different Directions as Dolphins Move Down, Bengals Going Up

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Different Directions as Dolphins Move Down, Bengals Going Up

Article excerpt

DAVIE, Fla. -

The Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals are headed in opposite directions entering their nationally televised game Thursday night at Sun Life Stadium.

The Bengals (6-2) have won four in a row; the Dolphins (3-4) have lost four in a row.

Cincinnati is coming off a 49-9 rout of the New York Jets; the Dolphins are coming off a second-half collapse in a 27-17 loss to New England.

And while Cincy quarterback Andy Dalton is on fire, Miami's Ryan Tannehill has been regressing.

"They've definitely stepped it up a notch," Miami left guard Richie Incognito said of the Bengals. "They're playing winning football and playing it well."

If any position group on the Dolphins faces a major test this week, it's Incognito's offensive line. The Bengals' front four - led by Geno Atkins, whose five sacks rank second in the NFL among interior linemen - is the strength of a unit that is tied for fifth in scoring defense.

The Bengals have only 22 sacks (tied for 12th) but present a huge challenge for a Miami line that has yielded a league-high 32.

"Their front four might be the best we've faced all year," center Mike Pouncey said. "We've got to go out and play a complete football game."

"They're good, they're fast, they're physical," Incognito added. "The whole defense plays pretty well."

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Atkins, the son of ex-Dolphin Gene Atkins, has emerged as a team leader in his fourth season.

"He's one of those guys who says very little and does a lot," Lewis said. "That's the key element to being successful. He's always been a hard worker; that's what drew us to him, his motor and his ability to rush the passer from inside."

Complementing the Bengals' defense is a passing game led by Dalton that is taking its play to another level of late.

Cincinnati ranks seventh overall in passing yards. A.J. Green leads the AFC with 734 receiving yards while second-year wideout Marvin Jones is coming off a four-TD game against the Jets. Toss in tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and slot receiver Mohamed Sanu and it's as complete a group as you'll find. …

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