MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Ryan Tannehill scored on a 1-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to help the Miami Dolphins take a 10-3 halftime lead over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.
Tannehill's sneak capped an 11-play, 93-yard second-quarter drive for the Dolphins, who wasted two scoring chances earlier in the half before getting on the scoreboard with 2:39 left until intermission. The Dolphins ran the ball nine times on the drive, but the big play was Tannehill connecting with Mike Wallace for a 40-yard catch-and-run to the 28.
Miami ran for 142 yards in the first half, the franchise's most in the first 30 minutes of a game since running for 174 in the first half against New England on Dec. 29, 2002.
Caleb Sturgis' 36-yard field goal with 6 seconds left extended Miami's lead. Mike Nugent's 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter accounted for Cincinnati's scoring.
The Bengals lost All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins to a knee injury with 4:35 left in the second quarter. The team originally said he was questionable to return, then downgraded him to out a few minutes later. Bengals linebacker James Harrison left with a thumb injury, with his return listed as questionable.
Miami offensive lineman Richie Incognito also left in the first half because of a neck injury. His return was questionable, the Dolphins said.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was 13 of 22 passing for 121 yards in the half, with two giveaways — a fumble and an interception late in the half, the second of those miscues setting up the drive where Sturgis' kick made it 10-3.
Tannehill was 8 of 12 passing for 98 yards.
Even with the lead, there were still plenty of Miami struggles, including one sequence where Lamar Miller got the Dolphins' second-longest ground gain of the season — and the team essentially lost 2 yards on the play.
Miller carried the ball down the right side of the line, darted through a tiny opening near the sideline and took off toward the middle for what became a 41-yard carry. But as he neared the end zone, Cincinnati's Carlos Dunlap ran Miller down, took a huge swipe with his right arm at the ball and knocked it loose.
Adam "Pacman" Jones recovered the bouncing ball for the Bengals in the end zone, running it out to the Cincinnati 43.
But the Miami defense forced a three-and-out, and after a punt pinned the Dolphins deep, they went on the 93-yard march capped by the third rushing touchdown of Tannehill's career.
With that, the mood at Sun Life Stadium changed dramatically.
The Dolphins were hearing boos in the early going, after wasting a scoring opportunity created by defensive end Cameron Wake, who got to Dalton and forced a turnover at the Cincinnati 25 — Wake's first sack since Week 1.
Miami eventually had a fourth-and-1 and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin sent in the field-goal unit, to the dismay of some in the crowd. Their boos only got louder moments later, when Sturgis' kick went wide left — his fifth miss in his last six attempts at that point, after a 10-for-10 start to his rookie season.
Win or lose, Cincinnati will remain atop the AFC North, with the Bengals entering the night on a four-game winning streak and 2½ games ahead of reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore. The Dolphins entered on a four-game slide, a swift collapse after getting off to a 3-0 start.
Both teams were missing key linemen.
Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth was inactive after injuring his right knee Sunday in the Bengals' win over the New York Jets. Miami was without tackle Jonathan Martin, who was inactive and is receiving professional assistance for emotional issues.
Anthony Collins started for Whitworth. Martin was replaced by Tyson Clabo, who started Miami's first six games before being benched. And the Dolphins' maligned offensive line continued struggling, with Tannehill getting dropped by Atkins on Miami's first series.
It was the 33rd time Tannehill had been sacked this season.