By Adam H. Beasley, The Miami Herald –
MIAMI — The Miami Dolphins finally made a late lead hold up.
After blowing fourth-quarter advantages in each of the last two weeks, Miami hung on with a timely defensive stop to beat the Bengals 17-13 on Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill completed 17 of 26 passes for 223 yards and got touchdown runs from Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to snap a two-game losing streak.
Yet Miami (2-3) had to fend off one last charge by Andy Dalton and the Bengals (3-2). Cincinnati had the ball at its own 20 with 1:45 to go, but Reshad Jones snuffed out any hope of a rally with a game-clinching pick.
The game certainly ended better than it started for Miami.
The Dolphins’ downfall through four games had been turnovers and they didn’t take long Sunday to commit another one. A Bengals punt in the game’s first four minutes hit Jones in the back and Cincinnati recovered at the Miami 26.
The Dolphins’ defense held though, and the Bengals had to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Mike Nugent.
Miami drove into Cincinnati’s red zone on its next drive before coughing it up again. This time, it was Jorvorskie Lane who fumbled on a run to the right side.
The Bengals converted the second takeaway in as many possessions into a second Nugent field goal, this one from 24 yards to stretch the lead to 6-0.
Finally, the Dolphins’ offense got on track, covering 63 yards on 9 plays, the final yard courtesy of a Thomas run into the end zone. Despite a sloppy, disjointed first half, they went into the break with a 7-6 lead.
The Dolphins added to it early in the second. Defensive tackle Randy Starks plucked a pass from Dalton out of the air, giving the Dolphins a short field. Bush cashed in three snaps later, running 13 yards to score.
Dan Carpenter stretched the lead to 17-6 later in the third quarter, drilling a 46-yard field goal – a range that has given him fits this season.
But Carpenter wasn’t so accurate on his next try, a 53-yard field goal that he missed wide left. And just like a miss sparked a Cardinals rally the week before, Carpenter’s errant attempt gave the Bengals life.
Dalton regained his footing, targeting A.J. Green over and over again. Sean Smith was in coverage, but provided little resistance, including on the drive’s final play, a 2-yard touchdown pass to Green on a fade route.
And the Bengals looked poised to go ahead, carving up the Dolphins’ secondary late in the fourth quarter and moving inside the Miami 25. But the drive stalled, and Cincinnati – strangely – elected to try a field goal. But even that backfired, as Nugent missed from 41 yards, and the Dolphins held on to win.