Nov 13, 2014 10:43 PM
Dolphins lead Bills 12-9 through 3 quarters
The Associated Press
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Ryan Tannehill threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson, and the Miami Dolphins took a 12-9 lead after three quarters of their AFC East matchup against the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night.
It was only the third offensive touchdown in the Miami-Buffalo series this season, through seven quarters.
Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals for Buffalo, including a 46-yarder with 6:26 left in the third quarter his eighth field goal this season against Miami, his former club.
Tannehill and the Dolphins answered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive, the score coming on what appeared to be a broken play with Gibson wide open in the middle of the end zone. And the defense added to the lead about a minute later, when Buffalo quarterback Kyle Orton under pressure from Miami's Olivier Vernon was flagged for intentional grounding from the end zone for a safety that put Miami up 12-9.
But on the ensuing free kick, Miami's Jarvis Landry fumbled the return and Buffalo took over at the Miami 39.
Carpenter had field goals of 33 and 21 yards in the first half. Caleb Sturgis kicked a 38-yard field goal to cap the Dolphins' first drive.
Moving the ball wasn't a big problem 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 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 Dolphins finally broke through with 2:18 left in the third, cashing in after Tannehill connected on a 32-yard gain to Brian Hartline that put Miami on the Buffalo 16.
Lamar Miller rushed for nine yards on the next Miami play, and Tannehill found Gibson for the lead after the ensuing snap.
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 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, 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 was 21 of 28 passing for 207 yards through three quarters 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.
Orton was 18 of 28 passing for 154 yards entering the fourth.
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 Dolphins wore aqua-on-aqua uniforms for the first time since 2004.
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