Bengals finding ways to win

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) against the Miami Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium.Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are 4-1 and winning in different ways.

They won in Week 1 by getting a late turnover, won in Week 2 methodically, won in Week 4 by piling up offense and getting late dramatics from receiver A.J. Green.

Week 5 can be summed up with a five-letter word starting with the letter g. The word we're looking for is grind.

It tells the story of how Cincinnati pulled off a wild comeback, coming back from 17 down to cop a 27-17 win over the Miami Dolphins.

"We had to grind it out," running back Joe Mixon said.

Did they ever. There was no 16-play march in four minutes by quarterback Andy Dalton, so something else needed to occur.

"Last week it was the offense," Dalton said. "This week it was the defense."

Down 17-0 with 24 minutes to play with, the Bengals needed to make something happen.

It started with Mixon's 18-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter and then came the defensive highlights, a case of being in the right place at the right time.

First up was Michael Johnson. A ball goes off the helmet of a Dolphin and Johnson alertly got his hands on it and raced in for the interception return and 22-yard touchdown.

Then came Sam Hubbard's 19-yard fumble return off Carlos Dunlap's strip sack to ice it with 2:37 remaining and send the Bengals into their preparations for the Pittsburgh Steelers feeling good about grinding out a win as opposed to feeling awful about a no-show performance.

"It's really a credit to Carlos Dunlap," Hubbard said. "He was chasing the quarterback down and hit the ball right into my lap. All I had to do was run straight."

The Bengals recorded multiple defensive touchdowns for the first time since Oct. 27, 2013 when Adam Jones and Chris Crocker did it in a rout of the New York Jets.

Four different types of wins and now a date with the Steelers. Any kind of win may give the Bengals a chance to change the narrative of who is in charge in the AFC North and probably get some national members of the Bengals bandwagon.

"Nobody gave us a chance when the season started," Green said. "Why do they believe in us now? We're going to continue to keep playing and keep playing for each other."

A lot has changed since the Steelers won a postseason meeting on Jan. 9, 2016. The Bengals only have 18 players remaining from then and are hoping to change the storyline that contains the following:

A 1-7 home record against the Steelers in the Dalton-Green era, Ben Roethlisberger's 14-2 record in Cincinnati, the 5-18 mark that Marvin Lewis holds in head-to-head meetings with Mike Tomlin.

"I think the world knows about Pittsburgh-Bengals football already. It's hard to neglect with all the stuff that's going on," Dunlap said. "But our focus in the locker room is guys have that single-minded focus. Next play. Next game. When we revamped the culture, that's what the coaches instilled in us. To build it better. If you didn't like the last play, make the next play the best play. That's been the mantra for this season."

Maybe so, but with a win over Pittsburgh, the Bengals can add to their impressive resume and emerge as the team to beat in the AFC North.

"We're the team to beat right now. Not them," Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said.

SERIES HISTORY: 96th regular season meeting. Steelers lead series, 60-35. Cincinnati has dropped five straight since a 16-10 win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, 2015 and 14 of the last 16 home meetings. In last year's 23-20 loss, the Bengals blew a 17-0 lead and were whistled for 13 penalties, totaling 173 yards.

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