Miami (2-3) had dropped its past two games in overtime, throwing away leads with turnovers. The Dolphins turned it around against the Bengals (3-2), who never got anything going consistently on offense and wasted a chance for a tighter finish.
Mike Nugent was wide right on a 42-yard field goal try with 3 minutes left his first miss of the season giving the Dolphins a chance to run down the clock behind rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was smooth in the toughest moments.
The Bengals got the ball back at their 20 following a punt with 1:45 to go, but Dalton's second interception sealed it. Dalton was only 26 of 43 for 234 yards with three sacks and two interceptions against the league's toughest run defense.
Miami showed it could slap down a few passes, too.
The Dolphins did it without cornerback Richard Marshall, inactive after missing practice all week with a bad back. Nolan Carroll started in his place and left early in the third quarter to get evaluated for a concussion.
The Bengals are in the midst of a run of five consecutive wins over teams starting rookie or second-year quarterbacks, putting heat on them with a pass rush that led the NFL in sacks.
They'd won the past three, but couldn't rattle Tannehill. He followed the best game of his career 431 yards in a 24-21 overtime loss at Arizona with a mistake-free showing.
Michael Johnson sacked Tannehill the first time he tried to throw, but the Bengals got to him only once more. Tannehill finished 17 of 26 for 223 yards without an interception.
The rookie had a fumble and an interception that helped Arizona rally to take the game to overtime and win it a week earlier. No miscues this time.
Tannehill completed passes of 15, 24 and 13 yards in a drive that led to Daniel Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run that put the Dolphins ahead to stay 7-6 late in the first half. He avoided the rush and completed a 28-yard pass that set up Reggie Bush's 13-yard touchdown run to start the third quarter.
It could have been even easier for the Dolphins. Fullback Jorvorskie Lane fumbled on a carry from the Cincinnati 11-yard line in the first half.
Still, it was more than enough for a defense that contained the Dalton-to-Green passing combo. Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green finished with nine catches for only 65 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown.
Cincinnati had to settle for a pair of field goals in the first half. Miami's defense held on a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line.
Tackle Randy Starks reached up and picked off Dalton's pass early in the second half, a two-handed grab as the ball reached the line. The interception set up the drive that ended in Bush's 13-yard touchdown run.
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Miami 17, Cincinnati 13
Miami 0 7 10 0 17
Cincinnati 6 0 0 7 13
Cin • FG Nugent 42, 10:35.
Cin • FG Nugent 24, :13.
Mia • Thomas 1 run (Carpenter kick), 6:54.
Mia • Bush 13 run (Carpenter kick), 12:18.
Mia • FG Carpenter 46, 8:35.
Cin • Green 2 pass from Dalton (Nugent kick), 14:15.
Attendance • 61,162.
First downs 15 18
Total Net Yards 279 298
Rushes-yards 35-68 19-80
Passing 211 218
Punt Returns 3-15 2-25
Kickoff Returns 1-30 2-49
Interceptions Ret. 2-1 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 17-26-0 26-43-2
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-12 3-16
Punts 5-49.6 6-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 2-10 5-46
Time of Possession 28:49 31:11
Rushing • Miami, Bush 19-48, Thomas 10-29, Tannehill 4-(minus 4), Lane 2-(minus 5). Cincinnati, Scott 5-40, Dalton 4-21, Green-Ellis 9-14, Hawkins 1-5.
Passing • Miami, Tannehill 17-26-0-223. Cincinnati, Dalton 26-43-2-234.
Receiving • Miami, Hartline 4-59, Clay 3-35, Fasano 3-28, Bess 2-49, Bush 2-24, Lane 2-20, Thomas 1-8. Cincinnati, Green 9-65, Gresham 5-60, Hawkins 5-47, Binns 4-41, Leonard 2-19, Green-Ellis 1-2.
Missed Field Goals • Miami, Carpenter 53 (WL). Cincinnati, Nugent 41 (WR).