The Cincinnati Bengals couldn't hold on to a late lead Thursday night in Miami and a safety in overtime snapped the Dolphins four game losing streak with a 22-20 victory.
Cincinnati (6-3) not only lost the game, but could also lose one of its top pass rushers in Geno Atkins. Atkins injured his ACL and may be done for the season. The Bengals were already without linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee, concussion), safety Taylor Mays (done for season), and tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) who were all injured in last week's win against New York.
Both teams showcased their punters in the early going as Brandon Fields and Kevin Huber launched 50-yard punts to help control field position. The Dolphins (4-4) had the first chance to score when Andy Dalton was sacked for the first time by Cameron Wake, forcing a fumble in Bengals territory. That led to a 34-yard field goal attempt by Caleb Sturgis, but it sailed wide left.
Overall it was a poor evening for Dalton who was sacked five times and also threw three interceptions. He did throw for over 300 yards in his fourth straight game. Dalton did find A.J. Green for two big third down conversions that got Cincinnati on the board with a Mike Nugent field goal in the second quarter.
Miami responded with a big run by Lamar Miller who avoided defenders and cut up-field for a 41 yard run. That run went from Dolphins highlight to Bengals highlight at the 11-yard line where Carlos Dunlap stripped Miller and then Adam Jones recovered it and returned it back towards midfield. Unable to do anything the Bengals relied on Huber to pin Miami deep in its own territory.
The Dolphins put together a 11 play drive that was aided by a 40-yard reception by Mike Wallace. Miami worked its way down to the 1-yard line where Ryan Tannehill pushed ahead for the touchdown. An interception by Dalton led to a last second field to give the Dolphins a 10-3 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter the Bengals controlled the ball for nearly the entire quarter running 26 plays to the Dolphins three. Cincinnati appeared to get a quick score on a 50-yard catch and run by Marvin Jones, but a holding penalty on Jermaine Gresham cost them the score. The drive did ultimately end in a touchdown, but it came when Brent Grimes picked off Dalton and returned it 94 yards to extend the Dolphins lead to 17-3.
Giovani Bernard took over from there as he got the Bengals to within seven with a 3-yard touchdown run. After a Miami three and out, Bernard had what could be the run of the year. On a pitch to the right, Bernard escaped the grasp of two defenders, ran back ten yards, cut across the entire length of the field, where he picked up a wall of blockers that included Dalton and Gresham. He then cut back, avoided a few more Dolphins and scampered into the end zone. Bernard ran 101 yards in total to pick up the 35-yard touchdown.
The Bengals defense held on the next two drives and Cincinnati had a drive end in Miami territory on another interception. They would score on a 54-yard field goal by Nugent to give them a late 20-17 lead.
Miami was given the ball left with 1:24 in the fourth quarter and suffered a seven yard setback when Michael Johnson sacked Tannehill. The Dolphins were able to overcome a second and long and got a 21-yard pass from Tannehill to Brian Hartline to set up a tying field goal chance. With 16 seconds left, Sturgis was able to connect for a 44-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
The teams traded punts in overtime, but it was a 32-yarder by Fields that proved to be the most important. He was able to place the Bengals at their own eight-yard line which set up the game winning score. On third down, Dalton dropped back to pass when Wake broke free and sacked him in the end zone. The play was reviewed and upheld to give Miami the 22-20 victory.
The loss snaps the Bengals four game winning streak. They will get some much needed rest before hitting the road again on Nov. 10 when they head to Baltimore. The Ravens (3-4) head to Cleveland (3-5) this week to see who will be in second by the Bengals in the AFC North. Andrew Hawkins picked up his first reception of the season since being activated from the injured reserve this week.
Passing: CIN-Dalton (32-53, 338 yards, 3 INT, 5 sacks, fumble, safety) MIA-Tannehill (20-28, 208 yards, rush TD)
Rushing: CIN-Bernard (9 carries, 79 yards, 2 TD) MIA-Miller (16 carries, 105 yards)
Receiving: CIN-Green (11 catches, 128 yards) MIA-Wallace (6 catches, 82 yards)
Tackles: CIN-George Iloka/Reggie Nelson (6) MIA-Chris Clemons (9)
Sacks: CIN-3 MIA-5
Turnovers: CIN-4 MIA-1