The Cincinnati Bengals scored 27 unanswered points to rally for a 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in front of 52,708 fans at Paul Brown Stadium.
After failing to get points on two trips to the red zone in the first half, the Bengals (4-1) got the spark they needed when Randy Bullock nailed a 51-yard field goal with 5:07 left in the third quarter to get Cincinnati on the board, trailing 17-3.
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The defense forced a three-and-out the next drive after Bullock’s 51-yarder, and Andy Dalton completed a 61-yard scoring drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Joe Mixon under pressure to continue the comeback early in the fourth quarter.
Cincinnati tied the game when Michael Johnson was gifted an interception, which he returned 21 yards for a touchdown with 11:43 left. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill fell under pressure while attempting a pass that deflected off teammate Durham Smythe’s helmet and into Johnson’s hands with no one behind him.
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Miami (3-2) managed just three more first downs after that. Bullock hit a 20-yard field goal with 3:30 left to give the Bengals their first lead, and then the defense sealed it with two more turnovers. Carlos Dunlap forced a fumble as Tannehill was trying to throw, and Cincinnati native Sam Hubbard came up with it for a 19-yard return for a touchdown, making it 27-17 with 2:37 left, and Jessie Bates picked off a pass about a minute later.
The Dolphins had taken a 14-0 lead into halftime and added to it their first drive of the third quarter with Jason Sanders’ 42-yard field goal. Those would be Miami’s last points of the game, though early on it was the Bengals’ offense looking lifeless.
Cincinnati made it as far as the Miami 13-yard line in the first quarter, but Dolphins safety Reshad Jones tipped a third-down pass that Dalton tried to gun into A.J. Green at the goal line and linebacker Kiko Alonso picked it off for Miami’s 10th interception of the season.
The turnover ended the Bengals’ streak of 34 straight trips to the red zone resulting in points. Entering Sunday’s game, they had scored touchdowns on 11 of 13 trips to the red zone this season and managed field goals on the other two.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Cincinnati once again made it inside the 20-yard line with a chance to get on the board, but Dolphins defensive tackle Vincent Taylor blocked Bullock’s 37-yard field goal attempt.
Miami had taken the first lead on a 95-yard drive after the Bengals couldn’t take advantage of a free opportunity to extend their final possession of the first quarter. A roughing the kicker penalty gave the Bengals a first down to end the period, but they ended up punting from midfield four plays later.
Ryan Tannehil led the Dolphins on an 11-play scoring drive capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenyan Drake, who was left wide open in the end zone, to make it 7-0 with 7:22 left in the second quarter.
The Dolphins extended their lead with Jakeem Grant’s 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, which marked Miami’s fifth touchdown play over more than 50 yards this season. Cody Core tried pushing Grant out of bounds at the 2-yard line but Grant managed to keep his foot in and dove for the pylon.
Vontaze Burfict, playing in his first game this season after serving a four-game suspension, finished with seven tackles, including a team-high of five in the first half. Joe Mixon, in his return from a knee injury that sidelined him two games, got off to a slow start but finished with 93 yards on 22 carries and added 22 yards receiving and one touchdown on four catches.
Dalton threw for 248 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Cincinnati has won two straight heading into a divisional rivalry game against Pittsburgh next week at home.