MIAMI (WGR 550) -- It took over a full calendar year, but the Buffalo Bills finally got back into the win column on the road. Despite a sluggish middle of the game, the Bills were able to stick together and claim a victory over the Miami Dolphins in last-minute fashion.
It wasn't the prettiest of ways to pull off a victory but the Bills were able to stick with it throughout the game, stick with their defensive playmaking ways, and took down the Dolphins 23-21.
How did they go about it? Well, the defense reigned supreme… that's how.
Mario's maniacal day
- Heading into the contest, Mario Williams was thought to be the key for the Bills in their hopes of beating a Miami team that was not only at home, but that was coming off their bye week as well. With the Bills shifting defensive pieces around, Williams got opportunities against both left tackle Jonathan Martin and right tackle Tyson Clabo. Not only did Williams beat them throughout the game, he annihilated them. He took over that contest much like he did against Byron Bell and the Carolina Panthers in Week Two, and his power moves proved to be the difference in the game. Some will argue that the Dolphins should have passed in that situation (FYI, your author had no problems with it), but Williams simply powered through Clabo and got to Ryan Tannehill to force the eventual game-winning fumble that was recovered by the Bills. Following two very average performances, Williams showed up playing at a superstar's level.
Robey finally rips one
- He's been quietly effective, but undrafted free agent Nickell Robey has been one of the most consistent members of the team's defense since being given the heightened role. Robey has been quite close to making big plays through the first six games, but his size inevitably limited how quickly he could jump a route and get to the ball. On Sunday, height and weight were no issue when Robey read Ryan Tannehill's eyes, jumped a route and easily scampered back the other way for a touchdown. Outside of the Week One game against New England, no slot receiver has been able to have an effective day and that's thanks in large part to Robey's play. He's been an underrated part of the defense and has quickly solved what used to be a very large problem in Buffalo.
3rd down defense
- Hats off to the defense and coordinator Mike Pettine once again for being able to bounce back from the defensive debacle last week in Orchard Park to help keep Miami from exploiting them in many of the same ways. Perhaps the most impressive part was how the Bills were able to put a stop to some of the third-down deficiencies they have had. Miami converted on only 3-of-13 chances to extend their drives, and all three conversions came on their touchdown drive in the third quarter. Throughout the rest of the game, the Bills didn't allow a single third-down conversion, which is astounding considering they've allowed almost 40-percent of third-down chances to extend opponent's drives. Going up against a Miami team that has failed to establish themselves offensively, Pettine played all the right notes to help put the Bills in a position to win.
2nd quarter disappearing act
- Through two games of the Thad Lewis era, the Buffalo Bills have completely lost their way in the second quarter after two very strong starts to the games. In the Cincinnati game, the Bills gained only 17 yards on 16 total plays yielded only three points. While it was a little better in Miami, the Bills gained only 76 yards on 18 plays, threw an interception and yielded three points once again. More importantly, they were only able to stand idly by as Miami got themselves back into the game with a pair of touchdowns to close the half. Perhaps it's only a trend that will last the two weeks, but the Bills have to learn how to sustain rather than just fly out to an early start and then disappear in the second quarter. It cost them the game against the Bengals, and very nearly also cost them versus the Dolphins.
Jackson guts it out
- Running back Fred Jackson defies logic at times in how he's able to stay on the field despite a perceived catastrophic injury happening. In 2012 he suffered a knee injury, only to return a couple of weeks later. In 2013, Jackson sprained his MCL and didn't miss any time with the injury. On Sunday, Jackson had Scott Chandler fall into his bad knee (the left one), and fell down writhing in pain. They even called for the cart to take him back to the locker room. Jackson called off the cart, propped himself up and attempted to walk off the injury. He not only did that, but he scored a touchdown and converted on the key third down play that helped the Bills to an easier field goal try and to run more time off the clock. Center Eric Wood used the term "gutsy" more than once to describe Jackson's efforts. There may not be a more appropriate word for the situation, considering how bad it could have been.
The kick return that wasn't
- The Bills had the Dolphins right where they wanted them. A 23-21 lead, Miami had no timeouts remaining and only 33 seconds to take the ball down the field and convert on a game-winning field goal. Then, the special teams unit proceeded to take "a couple of years" of Doug Marrone's life, or so the head coach said. Kicker Dan Carpenter had a mishit on the kickoff and return man Marcus Thigpen got the chance to return the ball. He followed his blockers, made one man miss and had only Carpenter to beat. The kicker was able to get one arm on him to slow him up, but a miss would have turned the game into perhaps the most heartbreaking loss of the season. Carpenter saved the Bills on two straight plays.
- Speaking of the kicker, it was a nice moment for him to come back to the team and city that cut him (and the ones that booed him every time he lined up for a field goal) to convert on the game-winning kick. Enamored by the potential that Dustin Hopkins presented, not many gave Carpenter much thought as to being the permanent kicker. Fifteen straight field goals made later, Carpenter has become a bonafide weapon for Buffalo.
Lewis wakes up just in time
- As it was documented above, the Bills had their struggles in the second quarter. Much of that falls on the arm and legs of quarterback Thad Lewis, who really struggled to establish the offense throughout the game. He was missing on some easy slant patterns and showed the tendency of checking it down rather than hanging in the pocket. That all changed when Lewis took the biggest hit of the game in the third quarter that sent his helmet flying. Not only did he complete a deep pass to Stevie Johnson on that play, but the defender Jelani Jenkins took a roughing the passer penalty and got the Bills an additional 15 yards. Not to mention, Lewis popped right up without his helmet and looked straight at his team on the sidelines screaming and imploring them to rise up to the occasion. It was a nice moment for him, especially just four miles from where he grew up.
Bills' MVP: DE Mario Williams
- The defensive end had a matchup that he could potentially exploit, and he changed the course of the game with his play.
Bills' LVP: QB Thad Lewis
- The Bills got the victory, but Lewis missed a lot of potentially big plays on the field and suffered through some miscommunication problems with his receivers. He made a couple of big throws, but there were bigger plays to be had.
Up Next: Sunday, October 27 at New Orleans, 1 pm
- The Buffalo Bills ended their drought on the road with a fulfilling last-minute victory that helped keep the season in tact. Had the Bills lost the game, a 2-7 start would have been likely with New Orleans and Kansas City up next in back-to-back weeks. With the victory, the Bills took another step under head coach Doug Marrone and claimed their first division win under him. They'll fly home happy, knowing the 2013 season isn't written off just yet.
Don't count the Bills out against the Saints and the Chiefs
Why is everyone talking like the next two games are already in the loss column. This team, while it has issues, can play with anyone. If they were healthy they would have a much better record and be a decent team.
I say they will hang with both teams. If they can keep it close I like their chances to pull it off.
That was a gutsy win, and I know the Thad could have played better, but wins are what count, not stats.
GO BILLS - - RFLR
Critism of Lewis accurate but......
This is the typical performance we are getting out of EJ Manuel. Wether you agree or not Lewis statistically, QB rating and Comp% is better than Manuel. Thats unacceptable given one is a 1st round pick and the other is off the practice squad.
enjoy the win but
the offense has to pick it up. i mean there timming. because the saints are going to play a complete game. we just to get our timming right. if you can correct penalties. you can correct the timming, you have to start using your TE more. and fullback. untill fred and spiller get back to full strenght. the "D" is there just need our offense to close out. but is was a great game for our bills. just remember the saints are going to play you to the wire. go get em ruff buff.
Nice optimism Joe
Way to predict the Bills losing season. 2-7. It really bugs me when Buffalo media just assumes that our team is going to lose to the Saints and the Chiefs. Ou team may not Superbowl caliber just yet, but you'll never find me predicting losses for this growing team. I fully expect and hope that the Bills will beat both the Saints and the Chiefs. Why not, we could easily have been 6-1 given those close looses to the Pats, Jets, and Cincy. SHow a little faith and loyalty to your hometown team rather than this losing mentality that plagues this city. Go Bills!!! Keep growing and improving.
Congratulations to the Buffalo Bills. Great game!
Excellent play by Mario
and Carpenter... then the kickoff went south, and if Hartline keeps heading deep instead of breaking off to the middle, he's in for 6 on Miami's last possession. Final play, Tannehill still almost makes a completion to a Dolphin in the end zone. It was nice to win, but we're middle of the pack at best. Why do people assume New Orleans is going to steamroll us? Because they're a much better team.
dont count any games as loses in the nfl
i think the bills will win against the chiefs and hang tight as can be with the saints! This team is alot more mentally tough than the last few years! Lets go Bills!
Lewis the LVP?
He isn't a first round pick or have you forgotton? He also had numerous dropped passes. He statistically clearly outplayed Tannehill who was a 1st rounder with a year under his belt. The Bills couldn't protect the blitz, they should have beenthe LVP not Lewis
We both suck on predictions this season. You dropped to 3-4 and I dropped to 2-5. This has got to turn around.
The Bills need to come out of the next two games healthy. If they can get Spiller and Jackson healthy the second half schedule could be interesting.
Our time is coming
CJ Spiller and kick coverage aside, there is not a single aspect of this team that has not improved. Third youngest team in the NFL, favorable cap room for 2014, young coaching staff that is excited and shows emotion; there is plenty to be excited about here in Buffalo. After 7 weeks to the 2013 season I'm buying stock in this team. Everything from seeing Stevie jump up and down with a huge smile on his face after Lodis nearly picked off the pass along the far sideline, Mario joking about Kyle's mildly funny non-fumble run, I don't know, I just like what I see. If this team keeps on heading in the same direction it has thus far I see blue skies and green pastures ahead. It all started off feeling different this season and I didn’t know what it was exactly but whatever it is, it’s not the same old Bills. Go Buffalo, go; it's nearly time.
On the play where Mario strip-sacked and Kyle Williams recovered the fumble...Did anyone notice Jerry Hughes literally lift up the guy blocking him and push him into Ryan Tannehill??? it was AWESOME!
My hat's off to Fred Jackson. He's a warrior. True definition of a team player. Good role model. And in my opinion, deserves the MVP. And even though he doesn't have the amazing stats, based on his career, he is Hall of Fame worthy!!!
Luck (not Andrew)
It's nice to see the Bills on the right side of luck. They made their own luck in the Miami game.
Thanks for the sacks Mario ....... now show up for the remaining games. Enough with the Lewis bashing: a review of Manuel's games show the same disappearing act by the offense. Ask Brady about the effects of largely young and inexperienced wr's. Remember as well the rb's are playing at less then full strength. What Lewis has done is nothing short of remarkable. Once again, Buscaglia is the LVP.
Wishing EJ didn't get hurt
I think Thad was definitely the weakest link on Sunday BUT was able to do enough not to kill them. I think statistically he's not far off from EJ but I think EJ is miles above Thad. I think had EJ not get hurt you would see his production increase as the year goes on, remember RG3 and Russell Wilson didn't really "take off" until week 6 last year. Sky is the limit with EJ, your limit with Thad is 18/32 for 200ish yards and a pick, maybe a TD.
Why, praytell, were the Miami fans booing Carpenter? Just because he was on the opposing team after being cut by the Phish? Classy show, Dolfans.
Props to Mario for another top notch game. His play this year makes me wonder just how bad the various injuries were last year. They were made out to be minor nicks and bruises, but it seems like he has a whole new attitude and speed of play this year.
Let's talk Red Sox.
Everyone REMAIN CALM
The 'media' calling for a 2-7 start is based on simple reality of the situation. That being said, the Chiefs are much more ripe for an upset than the Saints. This is the NFL, with 80% parity - Look at ALL the teams between 2-4 and 4-3. It's nuts! Just a few dominate teams - and one lost last night - and a couple doormats i.e. the Jags and Bucs. So, yes, anything can happen but I wouldn't get too excited about our Bills being 5-4 in the next few weeks.
no web streaming
I do not understand why other teams stream there games but buffalo does not it sucks listen to the other teams radio station each week
Joe seems always down when he talks to Howard or the afternoon show. I think he is just being beat down by the amount of work he is doing for little pay. Howard probably makes three times as much as Joe and doesn't do anything and is on vacation most of the time. Don't even get me started tennis boy Schopp and guitar hero bulldog....bulldog owns like 8 guitars and cannot even play three chords..lol
NICE JOB!!!, TANNEHILL SUCKS!
ANY WIN against those "scumbags" is GREAT ANYTIME, even UGLY ones like these!!!
BEASTS WIN UGLY!!!! ENJOY, but next week,,,, UGH! DUCK AND COVER.
Reads Paul Hamilton, NOBODY.
I hope Hackett can give Lewis some plays that don't set his receivers up to be smashed? seems like Coach Hackett needs to adapt and give the offense some new looks? Lewis has been here long enough to let him open it up more? When Freddy n CJ get healthy this team will have no problem running and controlling the game- let 's hope the O line can pull together?
Buffulo is truly rising
It's a very possible scenario that the Bills record for 2013 will not look much better than any of the last several seasons under Chan Gailey. However for some reason I feel that we are not going to languish at or slightly below .500. Instead, I see the Bills as a team that is competitive in every game, not overmatched in any of them, and on the cusp of breaking out into a contender for a championship.
Re: NO BODY!!!
Who's Paul Hamilton? You must mean Mike Harrington.
Re: Nice optimism Joe
You're simply a dreamer. Wake up and realize the reality.
Lewis and Manuel one in the same
Funny how critical the grading of Thad Lewis is when he essentially is performing on par with EJ Manuels performances. Almost as if these guys are trying to convince themselves that Manuel is miles better by undermining the play of a practice squad QB. Not to mention the Bengals are one of the top 5 defenses in the league, where lewis had a 100 QB rating.
re: Everyone REMAIN CALM
Yes you better not get excited... the Bills have THREE STRAIGHT LOSSES staring at them in the face; @Saints, KC, @Pitt. Say again? That's BREES, SMITH and ROTHLISBERGER, Not one of those guys should be confused with STIFFS like Tannehill or Dalton. After that The the Rex's Jets come knockin, who they haven't beaten since Hector was a pup! That's 3 straight EXCELLENT QBS and 4 STRAIGHT TOP FLIGHT NFL defenses coming down the tracks. For Russ Brandone and Marrone, The TESTING begins in this stretch...