The Buffalo Bills escaped Thursday night with their fourth victory of the season - a 19-14 win over the Miami Dolphins. Despite greatly outgaining Miami on offense, Buffalo wasn't able to put them away until a late Bryan Scott interception. Head coach Chan Gailey opened his press conference by rightfully thanking the defense and special teams.
"Before you all start with the negatives, there are some positives," quipped Gailey. "The defense played outstanding. Did an unbelievable job. One score, I think they did not have many yards - they just did a super job, especially special teams. We gave up a touchdown and that is not good, but the punting, keeping them pinned down and making them go the wrong way. That was good, too. So there were some positives."
Positivity reigned supreme among the Bills' postgame comments, along with a sense of relief as the team broke a three-game losing streak to keep their season alive.
"I thought the biggest thing for us is just getting this winning feeling back," said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. "Football is such an interesting sport. Last week, the offense played better but you come out of the game feeling like crap. This week, the second half we did not really do much but you come out of the game feeling great. We got a victory and now we have to stack them together. We have to pile them up here. I think this will be a good moment for us just kind of coming together as a team. Hopefully getting some momentum for the second half here."
The defense Fitzpatrick speaks of held the Dolphins under 200 yards of total offense, allowed just one drive into the red zone, and nabbed three turnovers. Jairus Byrd notched two of those on a fumble recovery in the first half and a late interception that stopped a potential go-ahead drive by the Dolphins and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"I saw Stephon hit the ball so it kind of came out a little, and then once I saw it come out, I tried to swipe the ball away," said Byrd of the fumble. "I guess on the replay, it was already falling out and I tried to get it away and pick it up, and that is kind of how that one went."
"Those guys, they have been working," said Fitzpatrick when asked about the defense stepping up. "They have been working so hard. There has been criticism on them - there has been a lot of criticism on us as an offense and as a team in general. For them to step up and play the way they did today, I thought it was a dominant performance. Something we can build on."
Added Gailey: "It is huge for them to do that. All of the pro football world is watching this game. They watch this game. There is three prime time games a week and this is one of them. For them to do that and play the way they played tonight, I believe that is something we can build on. We need to be able to build on that."
The Bills now find themselves within a stone's throw of playoff position in the AFC despite their 4-6 record. Playing on a short week, Byrd was as energized as Gailey by the national audience, and it showed with another outstanding game. (Sign him, Buddy Nix.)
"I mean a Thursday night prime time game, you’re going to have natural adrenaline to be up for this game," continued Byrd. "To play on such short notice you have to rely on your adrenaline to get you over the top, because you are tired. I know I am going to feel it tomorrow. Seeing the predicament we are in, it was a must win. We had no choice but to go out and play hard."
Looking ahead, the Bills have nine days to get ready for another key AFC showdown against the wild card leading Indianapolis Colts, who must face the New England Patriots this weekend. Gailey isn't a fan of Thursday night games, but knows this longer week of preparation - and more importantly, rest - will be good for his team.
"Getting ready for (Thursday night) is tough," Gailey said. "It is tough on the players - really more than coaches it is really tough on players. They get a good rest now and we get the opportunity to prepare very well for our next opponent.
"Right now you are just trying to climb and find a way to get the opportunity to play in late January," continued Gailey. "That is what you are trying to get the opportunity to do. If we can build on this, we have a bunch of games left with an opportunity."