Led by a defense that put the heat on all night, and special teams that was responsible for the teams only score, the Bills broke their three-game losing streak Thursday night, topping the Fins 19-14 in Orchard Park.
Safety Jairus Byrd forced a fumble and had an interception, and Bryan Scott sealed the victory with an interception that ended the Dolphins’ last-gasp drive in the final minute.
The Bills also got a big night from their d-line, as Mario Williams had one of three sacks for a Buffalo defense that limited the Dolphins to 184 yards and 16 first downs.
That more than made up for an offense that lacked finish. Rian Lindell hit four field goals, including a 42-yarder, as Buffalo failed to score an offensive touchdown despite four trips inside the Miami 20.
Leodis McKelvin opened the scoring 90 seconds in by returning a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in a game the Bills never trailed.
”It was definitely a must win,” Williams said. ”With the way things turned out earlier in the season, we’ve got to come out and play like it’s the playoffs. And we’ve got to make plays and we’ve got to finish. It got close there at the end, but I’m glad we came out with it.”
Williams was referring to how the Dolphins cut the Bills lead to 19-14 with 8:42 left when Ryan Tannehill hit Davone Bess with a 2-yard touchdown pass. That was as close as they got, as their final two drives ended with the rookie throwing interceptions.
Marcus Thigpen scored on a 96-yard kickoff return for Miami (4-6), which has lost three straight.
The tone was set early though by McKelvin, who wigged and wagged his way 79 yards for the score that put the Bills ahead, and their D took over from there, never allowing the Dolphins to get into a rhythm.
”It’s really frustrating, especially with the success earlier in the year,” Tannehill said. ”Being in situations where we’re going three-and-out or six-and-out, it’s frustrating. We have to be able to find a rhythm and get things going early on.”
It wasn’t all Tannehill’s fault as the usually sturdy Dolphins defense gave up 120 yards rushing, including 91 to C.J. Spiller, who took over the bulk of the rushing duties in place of Fred Jackson (concussion).
After allowing 307 yards rushing in its first five games, Miami has given up 661 in its past five.
The Dolphins’ running game also sputtered.
Reggie Bush finished with 20 yards rushing, which marked a significant drop-off after he had a career-best 203 yards in 30-23 win last December during his previous visit to Orchard Park.
IT was a huge win, and for the Bills, winning outright in two of three areas in the contest was enough to walk out with a big win.