Despite the lingering distraction of the bullying scandal, the
surging Miami Dolphins have a chance to reach the playoffs for the
first time in five seasons.
Looking for a season-high fourth consecutive victory, the
visiting Dolphins can possibly clinch that playoff berth Sunday
while trying to avenge an earlier loss to the Buffalo Bills, who
will be without their starting quarterback and top receiver.
Miami (8-6) opened with three straight wins then dropped four in
a row prior to the scandal involving teammates Jonathan Martin and
Richie Incognito that drew front-page headlines across the country.
The investigation into the matter continues.
Instead of folding, the Dolphins have won five of seven. With
victories over Buffalo (5-9) and the New York Jets at home next
weekend, Miami would head to the playoffs for the first time since
A win Sunday and losses by Baltimore and Cincinnati would clinch
that postseason berth sooner.
“We are fighters,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We’ve been
through a lot. Guys are tough and are able to handle anything that
happens on the field.”
Tannehill has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 843
yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions during Miami’s
three-game run, made up of road victories over the Jets and
Pittsburgh as well as Sunday’s 24-20 home win over AFC East-leading
Mike Wallace has three TDs in four games and topped the 100-yard
receiving mark for the second time during that span with six
receptions for 105 against the Patriots.
Miami allowed an average of 28.5 points during its four-game
slide Sept. 30-Oct. 27, but has yielded 18.4 over the last seven.
Tom Brady threw for 364 yards with two TDs last weekend, but rookie
safety Michael Thomas intercepted him on fourth down with seven
seconds left to seal the victory.
Miami held Buffalo to 268 yards but recorded only 293 during a
23-21 home loss Oct. 20. Tannehill threw three TDs but was picked
off twice, one of which was taken back by Nickell Robey for the
game’s first touchdown.
Ex-Dolphin Dan Carpenter made three field goals, including the
winner with 33 seconds left as Buffalo overcame a four-point
deficit after three quarters.
“Every game is important, and certainly this one coming up
against the Buffalo Bills is very important,” coach Joe Philbin
told the Dolphins’ official website. “We’ve attempted to approach
each and every game the same way.
“We’re going to take a look at obviously what (Buffalo did) the
Looking to win a third straight away from home, Miami has a
chance to go undefeated on the road in December for the first time
since it went 3-0 in 2008. The Dolphins had won three of four in
Buffalo before losing 19-14 there last Nov. 15.
A sprained right knee kept Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel
out of the October game against the Dolphins, and a left knee
injury will keep him from playing Sunday. Thad Lewis, who went 21
of 32 for 202 yards with an INT and no TDs while getting sacked
four times at Miami, will make his fourth start of the season and
first since Oct. 27.
In danger of a fifth straight season of double-digit losses,
Buffalo looks to win consecutive games for the first time since
Sept. 16-23, 2012, after defeating Jacksonville 27-20 last
“We’ll look to do whatever we have to do to win because it’s
critical for us to win,” coach Doug Marrone said. “And I think when
you win, you learn a lot from that.”
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller helped the Bills roll up 198
rushing yards last week while rookie Robert Woods had five catches
for 82 with a TD.
Stevie Johnson had one catch a day after his mother passed away,
and he’ll miss this contest while remaining with his family.
Buffalo forced three turnovers against the Dolphins in October
and recorded four against the Jaguars. The Bills, however, have
allowed an average of 149.0 rushing yards over the last five
Miami running backs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller combined for
103 in the first meeting with Buffalo.