ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton rediscovered his groove on the road. And kicker Mike Nugent regained his aim when in counted in overtime.
After missing wide right from 34 yards in the third quarter, Nugent hit a 43-yard field goal with 6:44 left in overtime to seal a 27-24 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Brandon Tate’s 29-yard punt return to the Bills 33 set up the decisive score as Cincinnati improved to 16-11-1 in overtime games. The Bengals snapped a six-game losing streak at Orchard Park, dating to 1985.
Andy Dalton went 26-of-40 for a season-high 337 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He bounced back after a two-game touchdown drought and led the Bengals (4-2) to their first road win of the season after losing their first two away from Cincinnati.
The Bills (2-4) were led by quarterback Thad Lewis, starting in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel. Lewis went 19-of-32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns after being promoted off the practice squad last week. Both touchdown passes came in the fourth quarter, including a 40-yarder to Marquise Goodwin with 1:08 remaining.
Lewis also scored a touchdown rushing in making only his second career start. But not all the news was good for Lewis, who said he was diagnosed after the game with a sprained foot. He expects to be able to play next week at Miami.
If he can’t, the Bills would have to turn to another practice squad player, Dennis Dixon, who was signed Tuesday. Buffalo has only one other quarterback on its roster, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel, who struggled filling in for Manuel in a 37-24 loss at Cleveland.
Lewis still produced a near-stunning comeback in rallying the Bills from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit.
The comeback began five minutes into the fourth quarter, when Lewis found tight end Scott Chandler for a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-8. His next touchdown pass was equally impressive. After hitting Chandler for a 25-yard gain over the middle, Lewis connected with Goodwin on the run in the end zone, a step ahead of cornerback Terence Newman.
It was an unlikely performance by a relative unknown at quarterback against a defense that ended Tom Brady’s consecutive-game touchdown streak at 52 in 13-6 win over New England last weekend. In its three previous wins this season, Cincinnati’s defense limited Brady, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger to a combined 64-of-118 for 692 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
And the Bills were playing minus their top receiving threat, Stevie Johnson (back injury). T.J. Graham had four catches for 74 yards, while Goodwin finished with two catches for 51 yards in his first game after missing four with a broken hand.
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap had one of the team’s five sacks, and also forced Lewis’ fumble that was recovered by linebacker Vontaze Burfict to open the third quarter.
The Bengals got the ball first in overtime, and Dalton produced a 40-yard drive that ended at the Bills 37. Kevin Huber pinned the Bills back with a punt to Buffalo’s 7.
The Bills went three-and-out. Brian Moorman hit a 51-yard punt from the goal line to Tate, who zigzagged across the middle of the field before being pushed out of bounds at the Bills 33.
The Bengals ran the ball three times before Nugent won it.
Dalton had his first three-touchdown game since he threw three in a 34-10 win against Oakland on Nov. 25, 2012.
AJ Green scored on an 18-yard reception. Running back Giovani Bernard scored on a 20-yard shovel pass, and Dalton’s 10-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones came early in the third quarter.
Green finished with six catches for 103 yards receiving.