Nothing in the NFL is easy - especially winning. Riding a three-game win streak and facing the winless Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills were expected by many to roll to an easy victory in Miami this weekend. That didn't happen - the Dolphins controlled the flow of the game and held a 10-2 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
That's when Buffalo's offense finally came to play.
With their backs against the wall, Buffalo's offense - dormant for three-plus quarters - tallied 11 fourth-quarter points to lift the Bills to a hard-fought 13-10 road victory. It wasn't pretty, but we'll take the win. The Bills are now above .500 for the first time since 2004, and they have four straight wins' worth of confidence heading into a Sunday Night Showdown with the undefeated New England Patriots.
Offense Arrives at the Right Moment
Let's be honest, folks: J.P. Losman was downright awful in this game. The veteran quarterback struggled mightily to solve a Dolphins defense that has been awful to this point; he finished the day 12/23 for 157 yards and an interception. As terrible as Losman's performance was through three quarters, he redeemed himself a bit on the team's game-winning drive, completing 4/4 passes for 55 yards on that series.
Marshawn Lynch carried the team as usual. His 85 total yards (61 rush, 24 receiving) weren't spectacular, but it was Lynch grinding out the 8 points that tied the game midway through the fourth quarter. Lynch's tough running has been a blessed constant for the offense, and once again the rookie bailed out the rest of the offense in this one. Lynch did, however, sustain an injury to his lower left leg on the game-winning drive; it did not appear to be a serious injury, but will have to be monitored throughout the week.
Defense, Special Teams Keeps 'Em Alive
The reason that the Bills were able to pull out a victory despite the struggles on offense is simple: the defense and special teams both played well enough to keep the team alive. Despite being forced onto the field for a whopping 37 minutes and giving up 149 total yards to Dolphins RB Jesse Chatman, Buffalo held tough enough to keep the Dolphins from scoring more than the 10 points they got. Take away Chatman's yardage, and all other Dolphins picked up just 120 yards. The Bills were tipping passes all afternoon, and were helped out by multiple drops by Dolphins wideout Marty Booker as well. Chris Kelsay was stellar, playing well against the run and sacking QB Cleo Lemon for a safety in the third quarter.
Discounting one nerve-racking kick return by Ted Ginn Jr., in which a penalty nullified a touchdown, Buffalo's special teams played very well. Roscoe Parrish was particularly important, as he averaged 20 yards on his four punt returns, including a 40-yard return that set up the game-winning points. The Bills' third unit rebounded nicely from an average outing last week against Cincinnati and played a big part in the Bills eking out a road victory today.
Rumblings Game Balls
RB Marshawn Lynch: I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but no Bill is more important to the success of this team than Lynch. He was the one constant for Buffalo's offense, and single-handedly tied the score on two straight runs. Here's hoping he's fully healthy next week...
PR Roscoe Parrish: Don't underestimate the importance of Roscoe's returns in this game - he picked up the yardage that the Bills' offense may not have been able to. He effectively played set-up man for the Bills today, and it paid off nicely.
K Rian Lindell: Time to eat my words. I've given Lindell crap for not inspiring confidence on big kicks, but he drilled the game-winner dead center from 34 yards out. Good job, Rian. We need more of those.