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Dolphins finally hang onto a late lead, hold off Bengals

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- For the third week in a row, the Miami Dolphins held a lead in the fourth quarter. On Sunday afternoon, they finally converted that advantage into a win.

Miami cornerback Reshad Jones intercepted an Andy Dalton pass with 1 minute, 22 seconds to play, sealing Joe Philbin's first road win as a head coach, 17-13 over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Dolphins had lost in overtime the previous two weeks against the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals when they couldn't maintain leads.

"There's nothing better than being in a winning locker room after a game," Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "It's a great feeling, and just to see the joy in everyone's faces makes it all worth it."

Miami improved to 2-3 on the season, while Cincinnati fell to 3-2. The Bengals had won three games in a row since an opening loss to the Ravens at Baltimore.

Tannehill completed 17 of 26 passes for 223 yards, and Miami's beleaguered pass defense limited Dalton to 26-of-43 passing and 234 yards. The Dolphins intercepted Dalton twice and sacked him three times as they bottled up Cincinnati's downfield passing attack. The Bengals were ranked eighth in the NFL in passing, averaging 279 yards per game, including a pair of 300-yard games by Dalton in the previous three weeks.

"The offense didn't play well across the board," Dalton said. "I have to play a lot better, and we have to find the ways to move the ball down there and score touchdowns. We didn't execute today, we didn't do enough. It's tough sitting here where we are. We had our chances, but we couldn't get it done."

The Dolphins scored 17 unanswered points after the Bengals had taken a 6-0 lead in the second quarter. Miami turned the ball over twice in its first three possessions, but Cincinnati was not able to turn those takeaways into a sizeable lead.

Mike Nugent's 42-yard field goal put the Bengals up 3-0 with 10:35 left in the first quarter. The score came after Cincinnati rookie linebacker Vontaz Burfict recovered a punt that glanced off the backside of Miami's Jones at the Dolphins' 26.

Nugent added a 24-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the first quarter to give Cincinnati a 6-0 lead. The Bengals had a first-and-goal at the Miami 4 before settling for the field goal. The Dolphins have held opponents without a touchdown in 11 of 18 red-zone possessions this season.

Miami took a 7-6 lead into halftime on a 1-yard touchdown run by Daniel Thomas with 6:54 left in the second quarter.

Cincinnati had the ball to open the third quarter, but Miami defensive lineman Randy Starks intercepted a Dalton pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it to the Cincinnati 36. Three plays later, Reggie Bush scored on a 13-yard run around the left side to increase Miami's lead to 14-6.

Dan Carpenter made a 46-yard field goal for Miami's final points of the game with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season, a 2-yard reception in the fourth quarter. He had nine receptions overall, but those catches amounted to just 65 yards.

Miami's pass defense entered the game ranked 30th in the league, allowing an average of 298 yards per game. The Dolphins played without starting cornerback Richard Marshall, who missed the game with a back injury. Nolan Carroll started in Marshall's place.

"We had a difficult challenge without Richard being there," Carroll said. "It came down to all of us back there having to make plays because we knew this is one of most talented groups, one of the best groups in the NFL. We came out on top today."

NOTES: Green's TD reception in the fourth quarter was the 100th catch of his career. Green had 65 catches as a rookie last season, and he now has 36 this season. ... The teams combined to convert just six of 27 third down attempts. Cincinnati made just two of its 14 attempts. ... The Bengals had their second consecutive sellout of the season with a crowd of 61,162. It was their third straight sellout overall after not having a sellout in 10 of the previous 11 home games. ... Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent missed 41-yard field-goal attempt with three minutes left in regulation. It was his first miss of the season after nine consecutive made attempts.
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