Give Joe Philbin this:
He knew how to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.
No matter the records, no matter the talent, no matter the locker-room dysfunction, Philbin had the Bengals’ number.
Of course, Philbin is gone now. Can Adam Gase keep up the tradition?
We’ll find out Thursday night.
Gase’s Dolphins (1-2) face the Bengals (1-2), and to win, Miami will have to do something it has not all season: play a complete game.
“We just have to bring everything to this game,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said Tuesday. “We know it’s going to be a tough game, come down to the fourth quarter, last couple of minutes in the game. We have to be ready.”
Jones can simply point to history.
That exact scenario played out the last time these teams met.
You probably remember. Ryan Tannehill sure does.
“I remember the orange flashers, the lights off in pregame and then the walk-off sack to end it was pretty unique and something I’ll never forget,” Tannehill said.
The back story, for those who have forgotten:
It was Halloween, 2013. A Thursday night game. Jonathan Martin was AWOL, and the bullying scandal was just revving up.
The Dolphins had lost four games in a row and were decided underdogs to Cincinnati.
But Andy Dalton forgot for which team he played, throwing three interceptions in regulation to keep Miami in the game.
And with Cincinnati backed up in its own end in overtime, Dalton had no chance when Wake came crashing around the end to drop him in the end zone, ending the game.
Wake has heard about his safety all week from friends and teammates. It’ll likely go down as the signature play of his long career, even if he’s not ready to get nostalgic.
“When I’m on my rocking chair on the porch, it’ll be a better question to ask me,” Wake said. “Was it my most memorable play? I don’t know. But it was something I definitely cherish, and I was fortunate to be there and make it.”
That night was one of two times the Dolphins faced the Bengals with Philbin in charge. They won them both, using a formula that they might need to synthesize this week.
Statistically, the Bengals outplayed the Dolphins in those games, and it wasn’t particularly close.
Cincinnati, on average, outgained Miami by 70 yards and controlled the ball for seven more minutes with eight more first downs per outing.
So how did the Dolphins win? By sacking Dalton eight times and forcing seven turnovers in those games.
No surprise, then, that there’s a quiet confidence among the Dolphins’ more tenured players heading into Thursday’s showdown.
Jones believes the Dolphins match up well with the Bengals — “most definitely.”
Added Tannehill: “[They are] very similar to our defense as far as the base defense and the pressures — the kind of exotic pressures — they bring. We’ve got a lot of reps against a defense like this and hopefully that will pay off on Thursday.”
It had better. Whoever loses Thursday night will be in a deep hole.
Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, just 26 of 183 teams that started 1-3 have reached the postseason. Those that start the season 2-2 are two and a half times more likely to make the playoffs.
More history: The Dolphins’ dominance over the Bengals stretches back to the beginning. Miami has won 16 of 21 meetings with Cincinnati all time.
“It’s a big game for us, obviously,” Tannehill said. “Where we’re at in the season, we’re in the fourth game being 1-2, on the road, ‘Thursday Night Football,’ a big stage — it’s going to be a fun game.”