Monday, October 21, 2013
5 things to know from Bills' win over Dolphins
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Buffalo Bills finally won on the road, although it was a home game of sorts for their quarterback.
Playing in the stadium near his boyhood home, Thad Lewis helped the Bills rally with a last-minute field goal to beat the Miami Dolphins, 23-21, on Sunday.
The injury-plagued Bills (3-4) ended a streak of six consecutive road losses, including two this year. They won for only the third time in their past 18 away games.
"It meant a lot to get this win," Lewis said. "Wins are hard to come by in this league. It's even sweeter to get it at home."
The Bills won in Lewis' second start since being promoted from the practice squad to replace the injured EJ Manuel. The victory helped their bid to end a streak of five consecutive last-place finishes in the AFC East.
But even when things have been bleakest for the Bills, they tend to give the Dolphins fits. Since the start of 2004, Buffalo is 11-8 against Miami and 49-83 against everyone else.
Still, the loss carried extra sting for the Dolphins (3-3). A month ago they were basking in their best start since 2002, but they haven't won since, and they'll take a three-game losing streak to New England on Sunday.
"There are ups and downs that most teams encounter," coach Joe Philbin said. "The teams that have great character and great chemistry are able to overcome those downs that are usually there, and I believe our guys are able to do that."
Here are five things we learned in Buffalo's defeat of Miami:
MARIO IS STILL SUPER: With the game on the line, Mario Williams took advantage of the Dolphins' biggest weakness -- pass protection.
Williams forced a fumble by sacking Ryan Tannehill with less than three minutes to go, setting up the winning 31-yard kick by Dan Carpenter with 33 seconds left.
Williams totaled two sacks, both in the fourth quarter, increasing his season total to 10. No previous Bills player reached double figures after only seven games.
Both of Williams' sacks came against tackle Tyson Clabo.
"I have to take full responsibility," Clabo said. "He made a big play at a crucial point in the game. That's why he's considered one of the best defensive ends in the league."
LEWIS OUTPLAYS TANNEHILL: Lewis was sacked four times and threw an interception, but he threw for 202 yards and helped the Bills convert 9 of 19 third downs.
He also won praise for his toughness, completing one pass for a first down even as a blitzing linebacker knocked his helmet off and sent it skittering upfield.
Tannehill, meanwhile, continued to be troubled by turnovers. Along with his fumble, he threw one interception that was returned for a touchdown and another when Miami was threatening.
CARPENTER KICKS LIKE A KEEPER: Carpenter spent five years kicking for the Dolphins before they released him in August, and he wondered what sort of reception he would receive from fans.
"I didn't know what to expect," Carpenter said. "After the first field goal, I got my answer."
Fans booed when he kicked a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. And they weren't happy when he lined up for the game-winner, either.
"I just thought, `Kick it through those yellow things," he said.
Dolphins rookie Caleb Sturgis, who beat Carpenter out of a job, missed a 51-yard field goal in the first half when his kick hit the right upright.
ROBEY AND GIBSON COULD HAVE BEEN GYMNASTS: Bills cornerback Nickell Robey and Dolphins receiver Brandon Gibson took turns as acrobats, somersaulting across the goal line for touchdowns.
Robey returned an interception 19 yards on the game's third play. He was in the clear when he flipped into the end zone.
In the second quarter, Gibson caught a short pass from Tannehill and ran for the score, leaping over one defender at the goal line and splitting two others as he tumbled airborne into the end zone.
His spinning limbs made him look like a helicopter.
"I looked up and saw it on the scoreboard as I was on the ground," Tannehill said. "It was pretty fun to watch."
DOLPHINS' PLAY-CALLING RAISING QUESTIONS: The Dolphins averaged 4.8 yards per carry against one of the NFL's worst run defenses, but they ran the ball only 25 times and called 39 pass plays.
The Dolphins are throwing the ball two-thirds of the time, which is among the highest rates in the league. Philbin said the team's run-pass balance is easy to second-guess.
"Every time you pass the ball you can run it," he said, "and when you run it you can pass it."
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