The Cincinnati Bengals are back to .500 after starting the season 0-2.
Their latest victory came over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, with a 27-15 final score.
After starting the season 3-0, the Dolphins suffered their first loss of the campaign. But the bigger concern is for starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who left in the second quarter with a scary head and neck injury.
Here are some winners and losers from the Dolphins-Bengals game:
Loser: NFL concussion protocol
Unfortunately, this is the biggest story from what should’ve been an exciting matchup between two young quarterbacks.
Tagovailoa appeared to have suffered a head injury in Week 3 against the Bills. He stumbled to the ground and sat out a few plays before returning from what was deemed a back injury. There reportedly is an ongoing investigation into the Dolphins’ handling of concussion protocol.
Four days later on Thursday, he was hurt again after being sacked in the second quarter. And this time, it was a no-doubt head and neck injury. Tagovailoa was taken off on a stretcher and transported to a local hospital.
Injuries are part of the game, but this one felt avoidable. Tagovailoa was clearly at risk after what happened on Sunday, and he was limited in practice all week before Thursday. The fear now is Tagovailoa’s long-term health, after suffering two potential head injuries within a few days.
Winner: Bengals’ wide receiver trio
The Bengals have not one, not two, but three standout receivers: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
With so many weapons, quarterback Joe Burrow can pick and choose the best matchup and let his skill players feast. He did just that on Thursday, frequently targeting Higgins to the tune of seven receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Later in the night, Burrow looked to Boyd and Chase to ice the game. Boyd had a 23-yard completion to Chase on a trick play, then he hauled in a 43-yard bomb from Burrow to set up another score.
The final drive belonged to Chase, who had a 36-yard catch that set up Cincy’s final touchdown of the game. He finished with four receptions for 81 yards in a “quiet” night, at least by his standards.
Winner: Run defenses
Both teams moved the ball well on Thursday, but it wasn’t with much help from the running game. The defensive lines were in complete control, with both squads averaging under four yards per carry.
The Bengals had just 67 rushing yards on 30 attempts (2.2 yards per carry). Joe Mixon led the way with 61 yards, but it took him 24 attempts to get there. He was stuffed inside the red zone multiple times, and the only time he scored was thanks to the pile pushing him over the goal line.
Miami was a little more productive on the ground, managing 85 yards on 22 carries. A chunk of those yards came on a 25-yard scurry from Raheem Mostert, but the rest of the team struggled behind the offensive line. Credit to the run defenses in this contest.
Loser: Conservative coaches
It wasn’t exactly a low-scoring game, but there were certainly some points left on the table. Just look at the red zone conversion rates, and the distance of these field goal attempts.
The Dolphins went 1 for 3 on their red zone trips, with one touchdown and two field goals. It’s good to get points every time in the red zone, but field goals of 23 and 20 yards showed that they could’ve been more aggressive. When you’re inside the 10-yard line, kicking a field goal is a tough pill to swallow.
The Bengals were 2 for 3, with two touchdowns and a field goal. The field goal was from 19 yards after they were stuffed at the goal line. Even though it didn’t bite him Thursday, head coach Zac Taylor needs to show some urgency to win more high-scoring games later in the season.
Winner: A great uniform matchup
On a lighter note, viewers were treated to an aesthetically pleasing game on Thursday. The Dolphins wore their aqua jerseys and pants, while the Bengals debuted their alternate white helmets with all-white jerseys and pants.
Thinking back just a few years, Thursday Night Football used to be the exclusive home of color rush jerseys. While that sounds cool, it didn’t always deliver good looks (I’m looking at you and your spicy mustard uniforms, Jacksonville). This uniform matchup was a treat for viewers.
How to watch Bears vs. Giants
GAME TIME: The Bears' Week 4 game against the Giants will be played on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 12 p.m. CT.
TV: Bears-Giants will air on FOX. Joe Davis (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline) will be on the call.
For more information on the Bears vs. Giants matchup click here.