Turnovers costly as Dalton, Cowboys thump Bengals

CINCINNATI -- Andy Dalton didn’t have to do much to beat his former team.

In Dalton’s first game at Paul Brown Stadium as a visitor, the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense helped him and the Dallas Cowboys to an early lead with three first-half turnovers, including two in the red zone and one of which the Cowboys returned for a touchdown.

Dallas (4-9) hardly needed any offense to build a 17-point lead in the second quarter, and the Cowboys left with a 30-7 win Sunday. Dalton threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, including one just after the two-minute warning on a short drive to seal his second win in six starts in place of injured Dak Prescott.

Most of the action came in the first half, as the Cowboys added a pair of field goals in the second half before Dalton added the final dagger. The Bengals’ turnovers came on each of their first three drives.

Giovani Bernard lost the ball on his first carry of the day, ending an NFL-leading streak of 829 carries without a fumble, and the Cowboys recovered at the 32-yard line but ended up settling for a field goal after a Margus Hunt sack on third down.

Cincinnati running back Trayveon Williams replaced Bernard on the next drive, and the Bengals (2-10-1) moved 53 yards to get into the red zone before Williams fumbled and Aldon Smith scooped it up for a 78-yard touchdown return.

Brandon Allen put together another good drive -- with Samaje Perine in as the running back -- to get back into the red zone, but on the first play of the second quarter, Alex Erickson lost the ball at the end of a jet sweep that would have been good enough for a first down on fourth-and-1. Dallas responded with a 15-play scoring drive of 93 yards to extend the lead to 17-0 on Dalton’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 6:42 left in the half.

The Bengals finally got on the board the next drive with Allen finding A.J. Green open on a 5-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left. Green moved into second on the Bengals’ all-time touchdown receptions list with his score, sitting one behind Chad Johnson with 65. He is third on the franchise’s career touchdown list, which Pete Johnson leads with 70 touchdowns.

Dallas had a chance to put the game away early in the third quarter after Tony Pollard returned the opening kickoff 60 yards before Jessie Bates made a touchdown-saving stop. The Cowboys got to the 2-yard line and Dalton’s third-down pass fell incomplete, setting Greg Zuerlein up for a 20-yard field goal and a 20-7 lead.

Cincinnati, which hasn’t scored a third-quarter touchdown since Week 4, had a chance to cut the deficit in the fourth quarter, but Allen’s fourth-down pass floated well beyond the end zone as he had been limping around on a right leg injury. Ryan Finley replaced him for the Bengals’ final two drives and took a sack his first snap and then another one before throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-19 from the Cincinnati 16-yard line.

Dalton threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Pollard on fourth-and-1 to finish the game.

Allen completed 27 of 36 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown, and Williams led the running backs with 49 yards on 12 carries while Perine finished with 32 yards on 10 carries.

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