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Dolphins hold off Bengals in OT thriller

By
Alex Butler
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (L) threw three first-half touchdowns during a win against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday in Miami. Photo by Rhona Wise/EPA-EFE
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (L) threw three first-half touchdowns during a win against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday in Miami. Photo by Rhona Wise/EPA-EFE

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The Cincinnati Bengals scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but could not secure a victory against the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The Dolphins (4-11) led the Bengals 35-12 at the start of the final frame, before Cincinnati's rally. Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders made a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds of overtime to give the Dolphins a 38-35 win.

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"It was tough for us to kind of reset," Dolphins quarterback coach Ryan Fitzpatrick told reporters. "I think our defense really stepped up in overtime."

Bengals (1-14) scored 16 points in the final 29 seconds of regulation, highlighted by a deep touchdown pass from Dalton to Tyler Eifert and a successful two-point conversion, after Cincinnati recovered an onside kick. The unlikely sequence of successful plays tied the score and forced overtime.

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"To play all the way until the end of regulation like we did, and then have a chance in overtime, it just shows the heart of this team," Dalton said.

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Dalton completed 33 of 56 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Fitzpatrick passed for 419 yards and four scores -- including three in the first half of the victory.

The Dolphins (4-11) opened the game with an 11-play, 84-yard scoring drive, taking 6:28 of the clock. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins caught a pass from Fitzpatrick before fumbling and recovering the fumble for a score, giving Miami the early edge.

Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the Dolphins' next drive, giving Miami a 14-0 edge in the first quarter.

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The Bengals got a 20-yard field goal from Randy Bullock about four minutes into the second quarter to make the score 14-3.

Fitzpatrick threw his third touchdown pass of the first half by connecting with tight end Mike Gesicki on a 31-yard toss with 2:27 remaining in the second quarter, pushing the Dolphins' lead to 18 points.

Bullock made a 57-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, making the score 21-6 at the break.

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Fitzpatrick led a nine-play, 68-yard drive on the Dolphins' first possession of the second half. He ended the drive with a 13-yard touchdown toss to Gesicki, giving the Dolphins a 28-6 lead.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter. Cincinnati followed the score by failing to complete a two-point conversion.

Myles Gaskin rushed for a two-yard score with 11:16 remaining, pushing the Dolphins' lead to 35-12.

Then the Bengals mounted their comeback.

Dalton led the Bengals on a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped off with an eight-yard touchdown toss to C.J. Uzomah with 6:15 remaining in regulation. The Dolphins missed a field goal on the next possession. Cincinnati then used a 14-play, 58-yard scoring drive to cut the Miami lead to eight points. Dalton connected with Boyd for a three-yard touchdown to cap off that drive.

The Bengals recovered an onside kick after the score to regain possession. Dalton took a snap from the Miami 25-yard line with three seconds remaining in regulation. He launched a 25-yard touchdown toss to Eifert to make the score 35-33 as time expired. Dalton then ran the ball into the end zone, completing a successful two-point conversion and forcing overtime.

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Each team punted twice at the start of the overtime period. Miami then used a 10-play, 51-yard drive to set up Sanders' game-winning field goal.

Boyd had nine catches for 128 yards and two scores in the loss. Parker had five catches for 111 yards and a score for the Dolphins.

The Bengals and Dolphins combined for 932 yards in the overtime thriller. Cincinnati clinched the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft with Sunday's loss.

"I walk away feeling like we won," Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. "It's hard to win in this league. We could have played better, obviously. We could have played better in the situations at the end of the game, but at the end of the day, we rallied.

"They stuck together and found a way to win the game. It's not easy to win in this league. A lot of people think it might be, but it's not."

The Dolphins end the season against the New England Patriots at 1 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 29 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Bengals host the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. Dec. 29 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

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