Bills sweep Dolphins behind defense
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills made sure the AFC East is anybody's race, and the Miami Dolphins sure weren't happy about it.
Damon Huard loses the ball as he's sacked by Bruce Smith. Miami recovered. "They beat the hell out of us," Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said after Doug Flutie threw a touchdown pass to Eric Moulds and Jonathan Linton scored on a 4-yard run in Buffalo's 23-3 victory Sunday. It was the Bills' second victory over the Dolphins this season.
Johnson displayed his disgust in a news conference that lasted 45 seconds. He then stormed away after the Bills (7-3) allowed the Dolphins only 101 yards -- Buffalo's third-best defensive performance in its history, and Miami's second-worst offensive production ever.
"We obviously weren't ready to play," Johnson said. "Buffalo blocked us; we didn't block them. We couldn't tackle them. We had a lot of things going on, talking about how good we were, and quarterback controversies and everything in the world except talking about our opponent, which had beat us pretty good before."
Steve Christie kicked field goals of 31, 48 and 47 yards into the wind in the first quarter, and the Bills tightened an already close division race, which has four teams vying for first place.
The Dolphins (7-2) are tied for first in the division, but now have dropped two games to Buffalo (7-3) and could be in trouble if their playoff fate comes down to a tiebreaker with the Bills. Indianapolis also is 7-2 after its win over the New York Giants on Sunday. New England, which plays the lowly Jets Monday night, is 6-2.
"This game meant a lot, and this hurts a lot," said Miami quarterback Damon Huard, one of the few Dolphins willing to talk about the team's disaster.
On orders from Johnson, most Miami players wouldn't talk about anything except next week's home game against the Patriots. Instead they attempted to erase the memory of Sunday as rapidly as possible.
"I've got nothing to say about Buffalo," said Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, who had a team-leading nine tackles. "If it's about New England, I'll talk. I'm only trying to make one guy happy."
GAME NOTES Steve Christie became the 16th player in NFL history to kick 200 field goals with one team.
Miami's Tony Martin made his 500th career catch.
The Dolphins had 13 sacks in three previous games, but none Sunday.
Buffalo has beaten Miami in five of its last six home games.
Bills defensive end Phil Hansen had one sack to move past Cornelius Bennett into second place on the team's list with 53.
Bruce Smith has a sack in each of the last six games against Miami; his first sack of Huard made it 60 quarterbacks Smith has sacked in his career.
There could be some job openings in Miami soon if the Dolphins (7-2) continue to play this way. A 30-yard field goal by Olindo Mare in the first half was all they managed.
On the flip side, the Bills had one of their best games. Antowain Smith rushed for a season-high 126 yards and became the first back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Dolphins this season. It also was the second 100-yard rushing day of 1999 for Smith, who gained 113 against the Jets in the second week, but had not gained more than 68 in a game since.
"That's what we knew we had to do," said Smith, who led the Bills to 177 rushing yards against the NFL's best run defense.
Flutie completed 10 of 20 passes for 157 yards and capped the scoring with his 53-yard play-action pass over the middle to Moulds in the third quarter.
"It was nice from beginning to end," Flutie said. "Offense, defense and special teams: everyone played well."
Huard completed nine of 25 passes for 65 yards with one interception and was sacked three times, twice by Bruce Smith. Miami rushed for only 60 yards.
Huard had led the team to four consecutive wins after Dan Marino was sidelined by a shoulder injury. In Miami's 23-18 loss to the Bills six weeks ago, Dan Marino threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and converted only one of 14 third-down situations.
Huard had thrown only two interceptions in 140 attempts prior to Sunday, but had been sacked 19 times.
The Bills scored the first four times they had the ball and led 16-0 on the three field goals by Christie and Linton's 4-yard run. Linton's touchdown was the first rushing score allowed by Miami this season, but he went out late in the first half with a knee sprain.
Christie's 31-yarder 3:31 into the game came after Antoine Winfield picked off Huard's first pass. Christie kicked another field goal after Miami went three-and-out on its second possession. Smith carried for 35 yards on the drive.
"That early turnover set the tempo," Flutie said.
Christie's third field goal, a 47-yard kick, was set up by Terrell Buckley's 26-yard pass-interference penalty on Moulds. Moulds dropped a would-be touchdown pass from Flutie on the play prior to the field goal.
Miami rookie running back Cecil Collins broke his leg in the second quarter. Collins, who sustained a fractured left fibula, led the Dolphins with 414 yards on 127 carries going into the game. He led Miami in rushing six times this season, but had four carries for no yardage Sunday.
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