Sunday, October 20, 2013
Carpenter, Lewis return to Miami in Bills win
By Mike Rodak
MIAMI -- When Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter trotted onto the Sun Life Stadium field to attempt a second-quarter field goal Sunday, he was greeted by boos from his former home crowd.
Carpenter is the most accurate kicker in Dolphins history, completing 81.9 of his field goals from 2008-12. But it was two big misses last season -- leading to Miami losses to the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals -- that cost him the confidence of fans and ultimately his team.
Oddly enough, it was the Jets and Cardinals who picked up Carpenter for brief stints following his release this summer. The Bills later signed him to replace an injured Dustin Hopkins prior to the season opener.
Carpenter nailed a 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining Sunday, giving the Bills a 23-21 lead and silencing those who had jeered him.
"I think Dan is well respected," Marrone said. "He had a great career here. I don't think anyone needs any extra motivation in this league to come back and kind of say 'Hey, I told you so.' But I guarantee you this: knowing Dan, he's a whole lot happier that our team won than he is anything else."
Marrone couldn't have been be more right.
"There was nothing special about it," Carpenter said of his return to Miami. "I have no hard feelings with what happened with the Dolphins. I'm glad to be in Buffalo right now and doing anything I can to help this team win."
The story was different for quarterback Thad Lewis, who made his second consecutive start with the Bills on Sunday. Lewis grew up a few miles from Sun Life Stadium in Opa-Locka, Fla. and drew extra motivation from playing in his old back yard.
"I kept telling him to calm down and relax," Marrone said. "He was all fired up. So immediately, my antennas go up and I say, 'Hey, just because you came home doesn't mean you got to go off the deep end on me.' He said, 'No coach, I'm fine.' And he calmed down."
The problem for Lewis was that his play on the field also calmed down from his impressive start last week in Cincinnati. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 202 yards, but was intercepted once, sacked four times, and forced to pull out big plays in third-and-long situations.
"We made some big third downs," Marrone said. "As we progressed through the game we made some plays. We really weren't in sync like we should be."
At one point in the third quarter, Lewis was drilled by Dolphins Jelani Jenkins after a completed third-and-11 pass, Lewis' helmet flying off in the process. After flags flew and receiver Stevie Johnson was taken down after a 17-yard gain, Lewis got up and pumped his fist in celebration.
"I'm not a rah-rah guy but when you're down and out you feel like you have to do something to get the team going," Lewis said.
Lewis said it was the first time he's won in Sun Life Stadium, dating back to his career at Duke.
"It was awesome," he said. "I had about 16, probably more people that I know, but I only had 16 tickets so they didn't hit me too hard."
Despite his local ties, Lewis said he was rarely able to afford Dolphins tickets growing up, an upbringing that his coach and teammates said helped build his character as an NFL player.
"When you look at him being out there on that field, it's perseverance throughout his background," Marrone said.
"He's a guy we have a lot of faith in," running back Fred Jackson said. "We love what he brings to the table. Hopefully he can continue to play well."