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What we learned: A.J. Green dominates in Bengals' win

A.J. Green was uncoverable against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, hauling in 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown as the Cincinnati Bengals cruised to a 22-7 victory in Week 4. Here's what we learned:

  1. With veteran cornerback Byron Maxwellsummarily benched, Green took turns beating Dolphins cornerbacks Tony Lippett and Xavien Howard to the tune of 123 first-half yards -- the most by any receiver this season. By the end of the third quarter, Green had more yards (166) than the entire Miami offense (152). The league's most prodigious deep threat tracked down passes of 51 and 43 yards, setting up 10 of Cincinnati's 22 points.

With the ground attack stalled, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu no longer in stripes and Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert sidelined, Green has carried the Bengals' offense through the first quarter of the season. Although he has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five NFL seasons, Green is finally poised to make a serious run at first-team All-Pro -- an honor he has yet to collect.

  1. Speaking of Eifert's absence, the Bengals desperately need him to return as an end-zone savior. To this point in the season, they have converted just four of 14 red-zone appearances into touchdowns. "Offensively, we move the football," coach Marvin Lewis said after the game, "but we've got to finish more of these drives with touchdowns."

Even if the inconsistent running game shoulders its fair share of the blame, the tight end position disappears from Cincinnati's offense the closer Andy Dalton gets to pay dirt. Taking advantage of a ridiculous catch radius, Eifert was arguably the most dangerous red-zone threat in the league last season. The good news is that he has been aiming for a Week 5 return at Dallas.

  1. The Bengals' running game has been effectively neutralized in 15 of 16 quarters this season. Outside of the Week 3 opening drive in which 50 of 65 rushing yards came on one break-away dash, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have been shut down. One of the most dynamic tandems in the league two years ago, the inside-outside duo is averaging a meager 3.44 yards per carry behind an offensive line that is too often losing the battle at the line of scrimmage.
  1. Cincinnati resorted to five field goals and still won comfortably because Miami's offense was downright dysfunctional. Ryan Tannehill's aerial "attack" was a mirror image of the Week 1 woes at Seattle -- except this time Kenny Stills didn't drop his wide-open touchdown bomb. Of the Dolphins' first nine drives, only one lasted more than four plays. "One of the worst performances I've seen from our offense in a long time," Tannehill conceded after the game. "... We're in a dark spot right now."

A consistent problem area since he converted from wide receiver to quarterback, Tannehill's shaky pocket presence was a key factor in the game's outcome. To be fair, though, top pass rusher Carlos Dunlap fashioned a clown suit for struggling right tackle Ja'Wuan James while All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins crashed the pocket on guards Jermon Bushrod and Billy Turner. The Bengalsblitzed just five percent of the time and still got to Tannehill for five sacks.

Tannehill might not be the answer under center for new coach Adam Gase, but it's hard to extract his poor performance from the ineptitude surrounding him.

  1. Rejoice, Miami: Tannehill is no longer the team's leading rusher. That "honor" now belongs to Jay Ajayi, who is up to 75 yards on the season after rushing for 33 on six carries. With Arian Foster nursing a groin injury, Gase is desperately seeking a hot hand in his committee of misfits comprised of Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the distribution of carries, though, with no division of labor according to individual strengths and weaknesses. We understand that Ajayi comes with issues of his own, but he saw just one second-half carry after averaging a perfectly respectable 5.0 yards per carry on five first-half runs.
  1. The regime might have changed, but discipline remains an issue in Miami. Gase's outfit was embarrassed in all three phases of the game, highlighted by a head-scratching unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter. Defensive lineman Terrence Fede simply threw Bengals punter Kevin Huber after the kick, giving Cincinnati a fresh set of downs and taking the wind out of the defense's sails.
  1. Credit rising personnel director Duke Tobin for building a roster that is perennially deep enough for the Bengals to exercise as much patience with their draft picks as any organization in the NFL. Three years after behemoth defensive end Margus Huntappeared to be on the brink of a breakout, he has finally nailed down a starting job, effectively setting the edge in the running game. When Hunt heads to the sidelines on obvious passing downs, the Bengals can turn to situation edge rusher Will Clarke. A third-round draft pick in 2014, Clarke is up to three sacks in four games after taking Tannehill down in the third quarter.
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