ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Miami Dolphins, riding the hot hand of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, had won three straight and were in the hunt for a playoff berth.
The Buffalo Bills had been eliminated from playoff contention for the 14th consecutive year and were without their starting quarterback and leading receiver.
One team seemingly had everything to play for, while the other team seemingly had nothing to play for.
So what happens?
The team with everything to play for loses decisively to the team supposedly playing out the string.
Fueled by the defense's seven sacks, Fred Jackson's 111 yards rushing and Dan Carpenter's four field goals, the Bills crushed the Dolphins 19-0 on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Buffalo improved to 6-9, while Miami dropped to 8-7 and limps home to face the New York Jets with Tannehill nursing a knee injury suffered early in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins need help from other teams, or will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
"They out-played us,'' said Miami coach Joe Philbin. "I wish I had a better answer. If I had a better answer, I would have stopped it. But they clearly outplayed us at the line of scrimmage. That's where football starts, and they played well. Give credit to them."
The Bills indeed dominated at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. In addition to their flurry of sacks, they limited the Dolphins to 14 yards on 12 carries and allowed Tannehill and Co. to convert just two-of-14 third downs. Miami punted on 10 of 13 possessions. Two other series ended with interceptions.
Tannehill entered the game as one of the NFL's hottest quarterbacks. He had completed 68 percent of his passes for 843 yards and eight touchdowns, while throwing only two picks, in his previous three games. Against Buffalo, he was 10 of 27 for 82 yards.
"I'm proud of the way we went after it,'' said Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who now has 10 1/2 sacks after two Sunday. "People say you don't have anything to play for when you've been eliminated from the playoffs. But we're professionals. If there is a game, there is something to play for. And today we treated this like it was our playoff game."
First-year Bills coach Doug Marrone couldn't have been more proud of his team, especially his defense.
"It was an honor to be on the sidelines and watch those guys perform,'' he said.
Jackson, the veteran leader who has played much of the season on a bum knee, recorded his 15th 100-yard rushing game. Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson are the only Bills backs with more.
"He just continues to amaze me, the way he goes about his business,'' Marrone said. "We took him out during the week, to rest him a bit. He's taken some good shots this year. ... I'm not sure (others with a similar injury) could go out and perform like that. I give him a lot of credit and I admire him for that. That's not an easy thing to do -- to play with that type of injury."
Running back C.J. Spiller chipped in with 77 yards as the Bills rushed for 203 yards. Spiller also had 26 receiving yards.
Thad Lewis, filling in for injured Bills quarterback EJ Manuel, improved to 2-2 as a starter with his second victory this season against Miami. Lewis was 15 of 25 for 193 yards.
Carpenter kicked a 45-yard field goal with 6:42 left in the first quarter to give the Bills the lead. Buffalo had driven from its five, the big play coming on a 57-yard pass from Lewis to Robert Woods.
Buffalo went up 10-0 with 13:18 remaining in the half on a 9-yard touchdown run by Jackson. During the nine-play, 57-yard drive, Lewis relied on his tight ends with a 24-yard completion to Lee Smith and a 15-yard toss to Scott Chandler.
The Bills' defense bottled up the Dolphins in the first half, limiting them to just 56 yards on 30 plays. Miami converted only one of eight third downs and punted on all seven possessions.
Buffalo increased its lead to 13-0 on a 21-yard Carpenter field goal with 12:01 left in the game. The three-pointer capped a 19-play, 92-yard drive.
Williams' second sack of the game knocked Tannehill out of the game on Miami's next series. He was replaced by Matt Moore, who was picked off by Bills safety Jim Leonhard. Seven plays later, Carpenter added his third field goal, a 22-yarder, to put Buffalo up 16-0.
Carpenter made it 19-0 when he connected from 26 yards with 2:26 to go.
NOTES: DE Kyle Williams' sack of Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill on the game's second series was the Bills 51st, breaking the franchise single-season record set in 1964. ... Bills WR Robert Woods was ejected from the game with just under 10 minutes remaining when he threw a punch at Dolphins S Reshad Jones at the end of a play. ... Dolphins CB Nolan Carroll intercepted his third pass of the season. ... Bills rookie WR Marquise Goodwin left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return
By Scott Pitoniak, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: December 22, 2013 06:39:47 PM
Bills damage Dolphins' playoff chances
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