Sunday, September 12, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 15, Bills 10
By Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Miami Dolphins opened the season with a 15-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here's a quick overview.
What it means: Both teams raised more questions than delivered answers. The Dolphins clearly were the better team, but their inability to pull away from an opponent that struggled all day should be disconcerting. The Dolphins dictated on defense for the most part, but on fourth-and-11 from their own 31-yard line, they yielded a 31-yard scoring strike from Trent Edwards to Roscoe Parrish with 5:13 left in the game.
What I liked: The Dolphins successfully played a ball-control game and were dominant on defense despite not having inside linebacker Channing Crowder (groin) and outside linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis (illness). The Dolphins held the Bills to 166 total yards. The Dolphins had the ball nearly 14 minutes longer than the Bills did.
The Dolphins had a balanced offense. Ronnie Brown rushed for 65 yards. Ricky Williams rushed for 62 yards. Brandon Marshall had eight receptions for 53 yards. Davone Bess had six catches for 51 yards.
Parrish was a weapon for the Bills. Previous coach Dick Jauron rarely used Parrish in the offense and stripped him of return duties. Parrish finished with two receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown and had a 19-yard punt return.
What I didn't like: Bills coach Chan Gailey raved about his three running backs, but none of them cracked 20 yards against the swarming Dolphins' defense. Rookie C.J. Spiller ran six times for 7 yards. Edwards was third in rushing yards with 12 yards. The Bills were intent to throw, and that seemingly was just fine with the Dolphins.
The Dolphins, who have constantly tinkered with their offensive line, were shaky in pass protection against a team that overhauled its defense and was banged up. The Bills sacked Chad Henne three times.
Unsung hero: Brandon Fields dropped a punt on the Bills' 1-yard line with 1:48 to play and the Dolphins clinging to a 3-point lead.
Injuries of note: The Bills lost inside linebacker Paul Posluszny early in the third quarter to a knee injury. Despite missing four games last year, he led the Bills with 115 tackles. Posluszny has a checkered medical history. He played only three games his rookie season because of a broken forearm. He broke his arm again in last year's season opener. A prolonged recovery would be a crushing blow for Buffalo, who lost top backup inside linebacker Kawika Mitchell for the season to a foot injury.
What's next: The Dolphins begin a brutal stretch of games next week with the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome. That game is followed by five playoff opponents over the next six games, with the Pittsburgh Steelers the exception. The Bills play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.