ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — No stranger to criticism, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to offer Mike Nugent some advice once it became apparent how costly the kicker’s missed field goal was.
“I told him, ‘You’re going to kick a field goal to win the game,’” Dalton said when the Buffalo Bills scored to force overtime. “Just be ready.”
Nugent delivered, hitting a 43-yarder with 6:44 left in overtime to seal a 27-24 win over Buffalo on Sunday. Nugent rediscovered his aim after missing a 34-yard attempt wide right that would have put the Bengals up 27-10 late in the third quarter.
And Dalton showed an ability to bounce back as well. Ending a two-game touchdown drought, Dalton silenced his doubters by going 26 of 40 for 337 yards and three touchdowns.
“It shows what we can do on offense,” Dalton said. “Hopefully, there will be some positive stuff written about us.”
The three touchdowns — an 18-yarder to A.J. Green, a 20-yard shovel pass to Giovani Bernard and a 10-yarder to Marvin Jones — matched Dalton’s career best for a road game. And his 337 yards passing were the third most of his career.
Nugent was relieved to have a second chance, too.
“I feel like I put us in overtime in a bad way, obviously,” Nugent said. “I just hit it terrible. I think I was lucky that we could get back in a position to win.”
He got help from Brandon Tate, whose 29-yard punt return to the Bills 33 set up the decisive score. Cincinnati (4-2) improved to 16-11-1 in overtime games, and snapped a six-game losing streak at Orchard Park, dating to 1985.
The Bills (2-4) lost despite a gutty outing from quarterback Thad Lewis, who started in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel. Lewis went 19 of 32 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in only his second career start, and after being promoted from the practice squad last week.
“I think I did OK. But it’s never good when you don’t come out with that ‘W,’” Lewis said. “You’ve got to be confident in this league. If I was nervous in any way, shape, form or fashion, the Bengals would’ve ate us up.”
Lewis, who also scored on a 3-yard run, showed no signs of wavering after he lost a fumble to open the third quarter that led to Jones’ touchdown. And Lewis didn’t seem bothered by ending the game playing on a sore right ankle.
Lewis said he was diagnosed with a sprained foot, and expects 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.
The young and rebuilding Bills have remained competitive. Their four losses have been decided by a combined 25 points.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games, and 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. You wish you could go back and change something, but you can’t.”
Lewis 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.
“It ain’t always pretty, but I’ll take a win any day of the week,” Newman said.
NOTES: Bills WR Stevie Johnson (back injury) did not play. … After managing just 22 catches for 199 yards and a TD in his past four games, Green finished with six catches for 103 yards and a score. … Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap had one of the team’s five sacks, and forced a fumble.