Nov 13, 2014 9:49 PM
Bills lead Dolphins 6-3 at halftime
The Associated Press
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Buffalo's Dan Carpenter kicked a pair of short field goals, and the Bills led the Miami Dolphins 6-3 at halftime of their AFC East matchup on Thursday night.
Carpenter connected from 33 yards late in the first quarter, then from 21 yards with 3:26 left in the half.
Caleb Sturgis kicked a 38-yard field goal to cap the Dolphins' first drive.
Moving the ball wasn't an issue for either team but red zone success, as has been the case all season for both clubs, was. The Dolphins entered the night last in red-zone scoring, and the Bills were last in red-zone touchdown efficiency.
Neither side did much to help those numbers in the first half. Miami got a field goal after getting to the Buffalo 9 on the game's opening drive, then Ryan Tannehill fumbled the ball away at the Buffalo 13 on the Dolphins' second possession. And the Bills racked up 31 plays and 152 yards on their first two series, but settled for only the two field goals from Carpenter.
After those two drives, Buffalo had only one touchdown in its last nine red-zone trips.
The opening drives were similar both 14 plays, Miami's going 68 yards, Buffalo's going 67. Tannehill completed 8 of 9 passes on Miami's initial drive, which stalled in part because of a holding penalty assessed to Shelley Smith who was starting on the Dolphins' revamped offensive line because of an injury to Daryn Colledge.
The Dolphins were also playing for the first time this season without left tackle Branden Albert, who went on injured reserve earlier in the week with a right knee injury.
Tannehill opened with eight straight completions, including a 32-yard gain to running back Damien Williams on a 3rd-and-24 play that got the Dolphins to the Buffalo 15. But they ended up settling for Sturgis' kick with 6:40 left in the quarter.
Tannehill finished the half 14 of 18 passing for 136 yards even completing one to himself, after a throw was batted at the line of scrimmage and wound up going down as a 4-yard loss.
Buffalo quarterback Kyle Orton was 12 of 17 passing for 100 yards at the break. Chris Hogan, who was in camp with the Dolphins in 2013, had four catches for 40 yards by halftime.
The teams combined for one first-half punt, that coming by the Dolphins with 41 seconds remaining until intermission.
The Bills were without running backs Fred Jackson (groin) and C.J. Spiller (collarbone). Bryce Brown started in Jackson's place.
Receiver Sammy Watkins, who had been listed as probable with a groin injury, was active for Buffalo. Colledge was inactive for the third game in a row with a back injury.
The teams came into the night tied for second in the AFC East at 5-4, with the winner moving 1 games behind New England for the division lead and the loser knowing its climb for a postseason spot got considerably steeper.
Buffalo came in riding a three-game winning streak over Miami, including a 29-10 triumph on Sept. 14.
The Dolphins wore aqua-on-aqua uniforms for the first time since 2004.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL