A pair of timely defensive plays sparked a Bills rally in Miami on Sunday, helping lift Buffalo to a 23-21 victory over the Dolphins.
Buffalo jumped out to the early lead on the game's third play from scrimmage. Nickell Robey stepped in front of a Ryan Tannehill pass and took it 19 yards to the end zone for an easy Bills touchdown. Later in the opening quarter, Buffalo capped off a 44-yard drive with a three-yard scoring run courtesy of Fred Jackson, making it 14-0.
Later in the first, the Bills defense killed a Dolphins drive, forcing the second of what would be three Tannehill turnovers on the day. Aaron Williams picked off a pass intended for Brian Hartline near the goalline and was ruled down at the two yard line. Miami finally got on the board early in the second, cutting the lead in half, on a Tannehill scoring toss to Charles Clay. After a 39-yard field goal courtesy of Dan Carpenter put the Bills head by 10, the Dolphins found the end zone once more before halftime. With just 21 seconds remaining before the half, Tannehill hit Gibson from 13 yards out, pulling the Dolphins to within three
The Tannehill to Gibson connection struck again, giving Miami its first lead of the game at 6:46 of the third. The Dolphins carried the four-point lead into the final quarter until Carpenter nailed his second field goal of the day, this one from 20 yards out, making it 21-20. Thad Lewis helped engineer a 15-play, 54-yard drive all the way to the Miami four yard line before Carpenter was called on for the chip shot attempt.
Still down by a point with minutes to play, the Bills got an assist from Mario Williams and the defense. Already with one sack earlier in the quarter, Williams burst around the right side, taking down Tannehill and forcing a fumble in the process. Kyle Williams pounced on the loose ball, giving Buffalo possession at the Miami 34 with 2:48 to go. Nursing the clock with runs by Jackson and Tashard Choice, the Bills regained the lead on a 31-yard attempt by Carpenter with 33 seconds remaining.
A 44-yard return on the ensuing kickoff put the Dolphins in favorable position, but the Bills forced four straight incomplete passes by Tannehill, the last of which was batted down in the end zone following a hail mary attempt.
Lewis finished 21 of 32 for 202 yards and was picked off once. The Bills struggled to get their ground game going -- Jackson led the team with 36 yards on 11 carries while C.J. Spiller managed just 11 yards on 6 tries. Lewis completed passes to seven different receivers, but Stevie Johnson led all with 6 receptions for 61 yards.
The victory marks the Bills' first away from home and in the division in 2013, upping their record to 3-4 while Miami falls to 3-3. Buffalo hits the road again next Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints.
BUF - TD - 13:27 - Nickell Robey 19-yard interception return (Carpenter extra point is good) BUF 7-0
BUF - TD - 5:47 - Fred Jackson 3-yard run (Carpenter extra point is good) BUF 14-0
MIA- TD - 10:59 - Charles Clay 7-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill (Sturgis extra point is good ) BUF 14-7
BUF- FG - 3:14 - Dan Carpenter 39-yard field goal BUF 17-7
MIA- TD - :21 - Brandon Gibson 13-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill (Sturgis extra point is good) BUF 17-14
MIA- TD - 6:46 - Brandon Gibson 4-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill (Sturgis extra point is good) MIA 21-17
BUF - FG - 14:16 - Dan Carpenter 20-yard field goal MIA 21-20
BUF - FG - :33 - Dan Carpenter 31-yard field goal BUF 23-21