Final

Bills 7

(2-1, 1-1 away)

Dolphins 17

(2-1, 1-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, September 21, 2003

 

1 2 3 4 T
BUF 0 0 0 77
MIA 0 7 3 717

Miami-record 42 carries for star back

MIAMI (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills had a hard time moving the ball, and they had a hard time getting it away from Ricky Williams.

With dominating defense and a workhorse running back, the Miami Dolphins beat Buffalo 17-7 Sunday night to forge a tie atop the AFC East.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Bills: What's the deal with Henry and the Bills rushing attack?
The only problem with the Bills running game is they abandoned it. They became a one-dimensional team against the Dolphins, and it cost them the game. As shown in Sunday's performance, the Bills cannot expect to win against good teams without a balanced offense.

Question on the Dolphins: Why have the Dolphins had such a hard time scoring?
This team understands their best player on offense is Ricky Williams. They have a great running back and a great defense and are playing a solid ball control offense. The Dolphins don't need to score 30 points to win.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Williams carried a franchise-record 42 times for 153 yards and one touchdown, helping the Dolphins control the ball for nearly 41 minutes.

"I just kept hitting it up in there," Williams said. "You want an opportunity to control the game."

Buffalo, which scored 69 points in its first two games, totaled just 118 yards. Miami made interceptions to end two early scoring threats by the Bills, whose only points came on Nate Clements' 54-yard interception return.

The Dolphins stymied Eric Moulds, harried Drew Bledsoe and sidelined Travis Henry. They also moved into a tie for the division lead with the Bills and New England, all at 2-1.

"We've got to play this way every week," Miami coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was as outstanding a defensive effort as I've been around for a long time against an outstanding offensive unit."

Bledsoe completed 10 of 25 passes for 98 yards with two interceptions and four sacks. The Dolphins held halfback Henry to 7 yards rushing and intercepted his first NFL pass to stop one scoring threat before he left in the second quarter with a rib injury.

The Dolphins could also claim a victory in their feud with Moulds, who had just two receptions for 30 yards. He angered the Dolphins last season by spitting in cornerback Patrick Surtain's face -- unintentionally, Moulds said -- and traded barbs with them last week.

"They double-teamed me the whole game and basically said, 'You're not going to be the guy to beat us tonight,'" Moulds said.

Williams fumbled for the third consecutive game but more than compensated by helping the Dolphins control the ball. They ran 73 plays compared with 44 for Buffalo.

His jersey soaked with sweat and caked with dirt, Williams clinched the victory on a 1-yard touchdown dive with 1:52 left. The officials originally spotted the ball at the 18-inch line but awarded Miami the TD after reviewing a replay.

Williams broke the team record of 40 carries set by Lamar Smith in a playoff victory over Indianapolis three years ago.

"He's the best back in the league," Bills coach Gregg Williams said. "They controlled the line of scrimmage. They were more physical in the trenches."

Surtain, Brock Marion and Sammy Knight made interceptions for the Dolphins. Adewale Ogunleye had two sacks, and Junior Seau and Tim Bowens added one apiece.

The Bills' first four possessions produced two turnovers and no first downs, and they wasted two scoring chances inside the Miami 20 in the second quarter.

One threat ended when a trick play backfired, with Henry's underthrown pass being intercepted by Surtain at the 1.

"We had been setting it up for the past few weeks," Gregg Williams said. "We thought it was there. Travis got hit when he let it go. He probably should have tucked it and ran."

Buffalo quickly forced a punt and drove to the 8, but Marion intercepted Bledsoe in the end zone.

"We got pressure on Bledsoe, and that's what we needed to do," cornerback Sam Madison said. "We kept him out of rhythm."

The showing by the Dolphins' pass defense was impressive and surprising, considering they were riddled for 639 yards passing in the first two games.

The Bills led 14-0 after two possessions in each of those victories, but this time it took them 17 minutes to make a first down.

Miami committed two turnovers and missed a field goal before mounting the best drive of the opening half for the game's first score. Helped by two Buffalo penalties, Miami moved 76 yards in eight plays, and Jay Fiedler hit Chris Chambers on a 12-yard scoring pass with 25 seconds left in the half.

Fiedler moved the Dolphins 85 yards in 14 plays the next time they got the ball, and Olindo Mare kicked a 26-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

Miami's offense then gave a score back early in the fourth quarter. Fiedler threw toward the sideline while under pressure, and Clements stepped in front of receiver James McKnight for the interception, then dashed to the end zone untouched.

Game notes


The Dolphins reported no injuries. ... The Bills had no turnovers in two victories over Miami last season. ... Clements has six interceptions in his past three games against Miami, including two returned for touchdowns. ... Miami improved to 10-2 when Williams rushes for at least 100 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Scoring Summary

FOURTH QUARTERBUFMIA
bufTD14:07Touchdown
Drive info: 1 plays, 50 yds, 0:00
610
buf14:07
Drive info: 1 plays, 50 yds, 0:00
710
SECOND QUARTERBUFMIA
miaTD1:10Touchdown
Drive info: 8 plays, 76 yds, 3:26
06
mia1:10
Drive info: 8 plays, 76 yds, 3:26
07
FOURTH QUARTERBUFMIA
miaTD2:00Ricky Williams, 1 yd run
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yds, 2:36
716
THIRD QUARTERBUFMIA
miaFG5:43Olindo Mare 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 85 yds, 7:35
010
FOURTH QUARTERBUFMIA
mia1:52
Drive info: 8 plays, 66 yds, 2:36
717