Thanks to rock-solid play from Ryan Tannehill and standout play from the entire defense, the Dolphins captured a very respectable win against a 3-1 team on the road.
Although the 'Phins did pick up their second win of the season, they gave the Bengals every opportunity to win it. The rushing attack was futile—generating just 68 yards on 3.5 carries—Dan Carpenter shanked a field goal, and Miami nearly dug itself into a large deficit with a pair of turnovers.
However, a win is a win, and you take them where you can get 'em.
So many of the Dolphins' "offseason superstars"—Legedu Naanee, Charles Clay, Roberto Wallace, Julius Pruitt—fell off the map, but Reshad Jones justified the hype on Sunday.
Jones was all over the field, racking up seven tackles (including one for loss), one pass deflection and the game-winning interception.
He delivered some bone-crushing hits and looked like the kind of playmaking safety the Dolphins have lacked for so long.
Before Sunday's game, Pro Football Focus had Jones rated as the second best safety in the NFL. Afterward, he's making a case for the No. 1 spot.
The honeymoon had to end sometime, right?
Jorvorskie Lane burst onto the scene with four fantastic games to start the season, but he came down to earth on Sunday.
In the first quarter, he fumbled at the Bengals 11-yard line—and that was only the beginning of his struggles. Lane also got stuffed on a 4th-and-short at the Bengals 38-yard line and was later penalized for an illegal shift.
He finished the game with two carries for negative five yards, though he caught two passes for 20 yards.
This was one hiccup in an otherwise great season, but it was also a reminder that Lane is still a rookie with plenty to learn and plenty to prove.
As each week passes, the Dolphins defensive front looks increasingly unstoppable.
The Dolphins can thank Randy Starks and Cameron Wake for this.
Starks intercepted Dalton in the third quarter, which extended Miami's lead to eight points. He also registered two pass deflections, a quarterback hit, three tackles and a half-sack.
Wake, meanwhile, racked up a sack, bringing his season total to 5.5. He also registered two quarterback hits and five tackles.
At this rate, both Starks and Wake might not only only deserve Pro Bowl bids, but also warrant spots on some First-Team All-Pro lists.
Charles Clay finally showed up.
After four forgettable games—during which he was hardly a factor in the Dolphins' gameplan—Clay flashes some of the talent and potential he showed throughout the offseason. He caught three passes for 35 yards, but things didn't end so swimmingly.
Firstly, Clay dropped two passes, which has been a recurring theme for him dating back to minicamp.
Then, with the Dolphins trying to close the game out with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, he caught a pass from Ryan Tannehill and ran out of bounds. The Bengals didn't have any timeouts left, but Clay essentially gave them a free one.
Thankfully, the defense closed the game out.
Given the caliber of Ryan Tannehill's supporting cast, every win he captures is an impressive one.
And, when he posts a 92.3 quarterback rating, it's even more impressive.
Tannehill wasn't spectacular by any means—he completed a modest 17 of 26 passes for 233 yards—but he got the job done. He continues to provide stable and solid play that keeps the Dolphins competitive.
It'd be nice to see Tannehill elevate his game in the fourth quarter, but he's only five games deep into his NFL career, and again, his supporting cast isn't exactly special.
For the third consecutive week, Dan Carpenter missed a field goal.
Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman sent Carpenter out for a 53-yard field goal try with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. It would've extended the Dolphins' lead to 13, but of course, Carpenter missed it.
Granted, no kicker is automatic from 53 yards out—especially outdoors—Carpenter is making $2.5 million per season. It's OK for him to miss the occasional field goal, but it's not OK for him to miss crucial field goals in three consecutive games.
Had the Bengals managed to score a touchdown on one of their final drives, Carpenter's miss would've cost the Dolphins a win again.
It's not time to cut Carpenter. The Dolphins won't find a better kicker on the open market. However, it's time to wonder: How much leeway does he deserve?
For the second consecutive week, Sean Smith contained an elite wide receiver.
After limiting Larry Fitzgerald to just 64 receiving yards, he held A.J. Green to 65. Granted, Green and Fitzgerald combined for 17 receptions and two touchdowns, but Smith deserves some props.
He's still inconsistent, but he's playing like a viable No. 1 cornerback.
Smith wasn't the only cornerback to turn heads today, though.
Nolan Carroll did as well.
With Richard Marshall sidelined with by a back injury, Carroll stepped into the starting lineup and performed admirably. Despite absorbing a hit that briefly sent him to the locker room, he played tremendously in the second half—most notably breaking up a pass on Cincinnati's final drive.
Carroll also recorded four tackles.
Yeah, Daniel Thomas scored a touchdown, but one play doesn't define an entire game.
Thomas finished the afternoon with just 29 rushing yards on 10 carries. On the season, he now has 84 yards on 26 carries, which gives him a dismal 3.2 yards-per-carry average.
The Dolphins continue to give Thomas opportunities to prove himself, but he continues to squander them.
Unless he turns things around soon, he'll fall onto the list of Jeff Ireland's failed second-round draft picks.