After losing to the Broncos and Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals desperately needed to beat the Miami Dolphins last Thursday night. To start 1-3, including 0-2 at home, would have been disastrous for a team seeking its seventh playoff appearance in the last eight seasons.
The Bengals beat the Dolphins, 22-7.
“It was very important for us,” Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We got to get that taste out of our mouth from that previous loss and play a football game. We knew that with a short week, the team that was most prepared or prepared the best during that short week would win the football game. And you saw the result.”
Dunlap had 2.0 sacks and one forced fumble in the win over Miami. He has 3.0 sacks, 18 tackles and five passes defended on the season.
Needless to say, he’s sticking fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.
“You can never really tell because they try to do a good job of hiding it,” Dunlap said. “But you know it’s getting to their head when they go back to the huddle and (the quarterback says something to an offensive lineman).”
Gottlieb pressed Dunlap for specific names, but the 27-year-old wouldn’t bite.
“I can’t do that,” Dunlap said, laughing. “There was a couple quarterbacks who went over to their tackles and gave them a kick in the butt.”
The Bengals rank 13th in the league in scoring defense but are 24th in scoring offense (19.5). That’s hard to figure when you have A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, but Cincinnati is missing a key weapon: Tyler Eifert, who had 13 touchdowns last season.
Eifert, who injured his ankle in the Pro Bowl in January, hasn’t played in 2016.
“Tyler was our red-zone threat,” Dunlap said. “He had 10-plus touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl last year on basically that alone. I feel like that’s a piece that we’re looking forward to getting back whenever he’s back. Right now, we still have a lot of offensive weapons. We drafted very well.”
While the Bengals (2-2) will likely be without Eifert on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys (3-1) will likely be without Dez Bryant, who is recovering from a hairline fracture in his knee.
Dunlap wouldn’t mind Bryant sitting.
“He’s a very good deep threat and he’s one of their key offensive weapons,” Dunlap said. “So if you take that away from a young quarterback, it’s going to make it a lot harder for him coming in against our defense. So if he’s not playing, it’s a high-five for our defense. I mean obviously I hope that he gets healthy, but for our team and what we want to do, that just makes our job easier come Sunday.”
Kickoff from Dallas is slated for 4:25 p.m. ET.