Dalton, Nugent deliver in Bengals' win over Bills
Orchard Park, N.Y. • Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has never wavered in his support for quarterback Andy Dalton. The same goes for Lewis' faith in kicker Mike Nugent.
The two players delivered on their coach's trust by helping secure a 27-24 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Dalton overcame the criticism that followed during a two-game touchdown drought by throwing for three scores and 337 yards both season bests.
"As long as he doesn't worry about what everybody says about him, he's fine," Lewis said. "I don't want him listening to you guys (reporters).
As for Nugent, he bounced back from missing a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right in the third quarter, to get the win by hitting a 43-yarder with 6:64 remaining in the extra period.
"Mike's miss today is not characteristic of him," Lewis added. "I was very confident in Mike kicking the ball."
The Bengals (4-2) improved to 1-2 on the road while opening a stretch of playing four of five away from Cincinnati.
The Bills (2-4) have reason to feel better about their fortunes and their injury-depleted quarterback ranks after Thad Lewis looked nothing like a player just promoted off the practice squad.
Filling in for injured rookie starter EJ Manuel, Lewis went 19 of 32 for 216 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns in rallying Buffalo back from a 14-point deficit.
"You've got to be confident in this league," Lewis said. "If I was nervous in any way, shape or form, Cincinnati would've ate us up."
Lewis, who also scored on a 3-yard run, wasn't even bothered finishing the game with what a sprained right ankle. Saying tests revealed no serious damage, Lewis announced he should be ready to play at Miami this weekend.
Here's five things that stood out as the Bengals snapped a six-game losing streak at Orchard Park, dating to 1985.
BIG-PLAY GREEN: After being limited to 22 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown in his past four games, A.J. Green had six catches for 103 yards and an 18-yard touchdown.
Green credited Dalton for drawing coverage away from him by completing passes to eight receivers.
"A lot of people give him hell about the way he plays, but I feel like he's the guy who can take us to the next step," Green said. "We've got his back no matter what."
FOURTH-AND-GOAL: The Bengals' defense came up big in keeping the Bills out of the end zone on four plays from inside the Cincinnati 2. Running back Fred Jackson was stopped on three consecutive carries. Then linebacker James Harrison made a diving tackle to bring down Lewis by his ankles on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the second quarter.
Lewis got that one back in the fourth quarter, by hitting tight end Scott Chandler for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth-and-8.
CLOSE CALLS: The Bengals' four wins have been decided by a combined margin of 23 points.
"It ain't always pretty, but I'll take a win any day of the week," cornerback Terence Newman said.
It's the same story for the Bills in their four losses, which have been determined by a combined 25 points.
"That hurts," center Eric Wood said. "It stings that we're so close, and we could be on the other end of some of these games."
HAPPY RETURNS: Brandon Tate's 29-yard punt return to the Bills 33 set up Nugent's game-winning field goal. Catching Brian Moorman's punt along the right sideline, Tate cut up the middle and found a crease across the middle.
Moorman, otherwise, had a strong day in his first game since replacing Shawn Powell, who was cut last week.
Moorman, who spent 12-plus seasons with the Bills before losing the job to Powell a year ago, finished with a net average of 42 yards on five punts including a perfectly placed 47-yarder that rolled out of bounds at the Bengals 2.
That's an improvement over Powell, whose 35.2 yard net-punting average ranked 32nd out of 33 NFL punters.
MARQUISE OUTING: With Bills leading receiver Stevie Johnson out with a back injury, rookie speedster Marquise Goodwin stepped up in his first game since breaking his right hand in the season-opener.
Goodwin had two catches for 51 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, tying the game with 1:08 remaining.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org