The Buffalo Bills scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, but a Mike Nugent field goal gave the Cincinnati Bengals their first road win of the season 27-24 on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Bengals (4-2) were coasting to a 24-10 lead when a missed field changed the momentum of the game to allow the Bills (2-4) to rally behind the arm of Thad Lewis, who was starting in place of the injured E.J. Manuel. Lewis threw for two touchdowns in his first start this season, but was sacked five times and lost one fumble.
Andy Dalton picked apart the Bills offense in the first three quarters as he threw three touchdowns, but did find the arms of one Buffalo defender. On the day he threw for 337 yards with 103 of those going to A.J. Green.
Cincinnati's first drive was set up by a Marvin Jones 34-yard reverse that put the Bengals in field goal range. That's what they would settle for as the drive stalled at the Bills' 28-yard line to force a Nugent field goal.
The Bills answered right away Lewis hit T.J. Graham for a 47-yard strike. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Vontaze Burfict placed the ball in the red zone. Two plays later Lewis scrambled for a 3-yard touchdown run and a 7-3 lead.
Another big play by Jones helped the Bengals put together a quick answer as he took a screen pass 42 yards to the Buffalo 28. Dalton used his legs to pick up the six yards the Bengals needed on third down and then Dalton found Green in the end zone on the next play from 18 yards out and a 10-7 lead.
Buffalo took advantage of another Burfict penalty, this time a facemask, to move deep inside Bengals' territory. The Bills were able to get down to the 1-yard line, but the Cincinnati defense get Fred Jackson out of the end zone on back to back tries and then James Harrison and Vincent Rey sacked Lewis on fourth down to end the threat.
Three straight runs by BenJarvus Green-Ellis gave Cincinnati some breathing room to allow the offense to set up another big play. This time the screen pass went to Green for 54 yards to the Buffalo 31-yard line. The Bengals continued to rack up the yards after catch as Giovani Bernard took a shovel pass from Dalton for a 20-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 17-7.
Yet another 15-yard penalty on Burfict, who also led the team in tackles with 11, set up the Bills for a scoring chance. Dan Carpenter was able to get Buffalo on the board with a 51-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-10.
Dalton missed Tyler Eifert deep on the Bengals ensuing possession, but on his next attempt, Dalton was picked off by Jim Leonhard at the Bills 21 and it was returned to the Cincinnati 38. The Bengals defense kept Buffalo off the board as Burfict set back a screen pass three yards and then Domata Peko and Geno Atkins sacked Lewis to force a 3rd and 20. Buffalo was forced to punt and after it was initially ruled a touchback, replay showed that Brian Moorman's kick went out of bounds at the Cincinnati 1-yard line. Dalton was able to sneak ahead for two yards and then the Bengals took a knee to head into halftime with the lead.
Buffalo's first two drives proved disastrous as Lewis was stripped by Carlos Dunalp with Burfict recovering. A taunting penalty on the Bills helped the Bengals get inside the Buffalo red zone. Three plays later Dalton connected with Jones for a 10-yard touchdown and a 24-10 lead.
The Bills went three and out on their next drive after Lewis was sacked again, this time by Wallace Gilberry. Cincinnati appeared to take a 27-10 lead on a short field goal by Nugent, but a holding penalty nullified the kick and Nugent went on to miss the second attempt.
Both teams traded punts before the Bills went on the offensive in the fourth quarter. The Bills went for it on fourth down from the Cincinnati 22 and Lewis was able to find Scott Chandler for the touchdown.
Both offensives stalled over the next few drives before the Bills took the ball back down seven with 2:40 to play. Lewis stunned the Bengals as he found Marquise Goodwin for a 40-yard touchdown to tie the game with 1:08. Cincinnati couldn't get across midfield and punted on its final drive of regulation.
The Bengals came away empty on their first drive of overtime, but Kevin Huber pinned the Bills inside their own ten. Buffalo was unable to advance and then Brandon Tate returned Moorman's punt 29-yards to set up the Bengals at the Bills 33. After three straight runs, Nugent sent a 41-yard field through the uprights to give the Bengals a 27-24 win.
Cincinnati will head to Detroit (4-2) next Sunday where it will play a Lions team that rallied from a 17-7 deficit at halftime in Cleveland to win 31-17. The Lions win paired with a Ravens loss gives the Bengals sole possession of first place in AFC North.
Passing: Cin-Dalton (26-40, 337 yards, 3 TD, INT) Buf-Lewis (19-32, 216 yards, 2 TD, 1 rush TD)
Rushing: Cin-Green-Ellis (18 carries, 86 yards) Buf-C.J. Spiller (10 carries, 55 yards)
Receiving: Cin-Green (6 catches, 103 yards, TD) Buf-Graham (4 catches, 74 yards)
Tackles: Cin-Burfict (11) Buf-Kiko Alonso (22)
Turnovers: Cin-1 Buf-1
Sacks: Cin-5 Buf-3