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The candidates for delivering the big plays

CINCINNATI -- Exciting despite the fact it was only 17-13, wasn't it? This Dolphins victory caused your heart to skip a beat almost as much of the previous two games against Arizona and the Jets.

Admit it.

When the Bengals got the football with 1:45 to play, you were nervous that a victory might be slipping away. But as I write in my column today, the Dolphins finally found someone, anyone to make a play.

Reshad Jones did that Sunday.

"I read the quarterback and did what I do best, go and get the ball," Jones said.

Good. It's going to have to become something of a habit for the Dolphins because after nearly a month of watching games come down to the wire -- and sometimes extend into overtime -- I get the feeling that's just how it's going to be for much of the next two months.

The Dolphins are going to have to find a playmaker, a hero, a man of the hour, to nail down victories week after week.

There are candidates for the role:

Randy Starks: Playing great, had an interception and half a sack Sunday.

Sean Smith: Playing great the past two games in helping to shut down Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green. He led the team in tackles on Sunday.

Reggie Bush: He started fast but yards have gotten tougher to come by lately. Eventually when teams go back to playing more balanced schemes instead of selling out to stop the run, the field will open up for Bush again.

Brian Hartline and Davone Bess: They are really the only two dependable receivers the Dolphins have.

Ryan Tannehill: He continues to progress. Eventually he'll have a game put on his shoulder and he'll have to deliver.

Guys that need to improve to be options to come through in tough spots:

Dan Carpenter: He missed another FG on Sunday, this one from 53 yards out. That's a long field goal to attempt. Joe Philbin said he went with it because the wind was with Carpenter. Yeah, except Carpenter is in a slump and has missed three field goals the past three games. He did make a 46-yard attempt, but asking him to do anything from beyond that range is optimistic at best and more likely ill-advised.

So do the Dolphins continue to nurse their embattled kicker along?

I perceive the organization's collective patience is waning.

Charles Clay: There is a concerted effort to make him more woven into the fabric of the offense. But despite opportunities, Clay continues to disappoint. He dropped what might have been a long gain. And on his third-down reception inside of two minutes to play, he allowed himself to go out of bounds and stop the clock for the Bengals. Not good.

Anthony Armstrong/Jabar Gaffney: A source told me Gaffney was inactive for the game simply because he's still rusty after missing most of preseason and being unemployed the past month until last week. He needs to get in shape and ready ... Armstrong has been a disappointment in that he was basically handed snaps the first week but has been losing ground since. This says it all about Armstrong: He didn't play much, if at all, on offense on Sunday. And Marlon Moore, who had been inactive the past two weeks with an injury, did play on offense. So a player whose been injured has passed Armstrong.

Here's hoping the ones playing well continue and the one playing poorly improve. I say this because as my column makes the point: The way the Dolphins are playing, they're going to be in most games at the end and they're going to need someone to come through for them with one big play practically every game.