Bills defense dooms Dolphins

Shortly after kickoff, the Buffalo Bills started knocking Daunte Culpepper around. Around halftime, the quarterback's new fans in Miami started adding to his misery. The Bills sacked Culpepper seven times -five in the first 15 snaps - plus blocked a punt and survived a paltry passing effort in beating Miami 16-6 and sending the Dolphins to 0-2 for only the second time in the past 37 seasons.

The Buffalo Bills said their defense didn't do anything fancy Sunday - no exotic blitzes or special coverages. Using that conservative strategy, the Bills still managed to keep Miami off the scoreboard for the first 58 minutes of a 16-6 victory.

With two-time All-Pro linebacker Takeo Spikes sidelined by a strained hamstring and two would-be starting safeties -- Troy Vincent, now on injured reserve, and Matt Bowen -- also out, Buffalo's defense figured to be facing a big test against a Miami offense that promised improvement from its Week 1 loss in Pittsburgh.

"Our guys did a terrific job today and in preparation for today's game." Said Bills head coach Dick Jauron. "Not turning the ball over was huge for us. Our defense played a terrific game. We pressured them when we needed it, we contained the run somewhat, but our defense played a terrific game. We were effective running today Willis (McGahee) got off to a great start and might have surprised them a little bit. Our kicking game today was outstanding. Brian Moorman pinned the Dolphins deep and Rian (Lindell) continues to knock them through. This was a great win for our football team."

The Bills said it helped that the coach calling the plays for Miami was Mike Mularkey, Buffalo's head coach in 2004 and ë05. For example, Buffalo linebacker London Fletcher-Baker said, they weren't surprised when the Dolphins went to a no-huddle offense late in the first quarter, possibly to tire Buffalo's defense on a hot, humid day.

"I told (the team) that coach Mularkey, that was something that he liked to do when he was our head coach," Fletcher-Baker said. "We knew what coach Mularkey's philosophy is, so that helped us." Added Whitner: "Coach (Dick Jauron) told us some things throughout the week, what he (Mularkey) likes to do on that side of the ball, some trick plays, things like that." It wasn't just Buffalo's defense that was dominating. So were the special teams.

Buffalo took a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal after a drive where all 49 yards were gained on the ground.

The Dolphins had a chance to tie the score early in the second quarter, but Olindo Mare's field goal attempt from 55 yards out missed wide right, though the kick had plenty of distance.

The Dolphins had a chance to take the lead -- or at least tie the score -- late in the first half when they drove to a first-and-10 from the Bills 14-yard line, but on second down a scrambling Culpepper threw into triple coverage and the pass was intercepted by linebacker Angelo Crowell.

Buffalo's offense put together a 72-yard scoring drive to start the second half and they were rewarded just for trying to beat Miami's secondary over the top. Lee Evans got a step on Will Allen and drew a 50-yard pass interference penalty to set Buffalo up 1st-and-goal at the four-yard line. One play later J.P. Losman hit Josh Reed for a four-yard touchdown pass.

Following Buffalo's 72-yard touchdown drive, the Bills defense stiffened sending Miami three-and-out. A 26-yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish set Buffalo up for a drive start at their own 44. The offense again relied on the running game pounding it six straight times, which led to a 45-yard field goal from Rian Lindell and a 13-0 advantage. The Bills tacked on their second field goal of the half after Coy Wire blocked a Donnie Jones punt to give Buffalo the ball at the Miami 17.Lindell would strike one more time from 43 yards to salt the victory away.

Culpepper completed 23 of 32 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown, but his regular-season home opener with the Dolphins was far from memorable. He and the offense were booed as they ran off the field at intermission and throughout the second half, as a team widely mentioned as a Super Bowl contender needed a TD grab by Chris Chambers with 1:54 left just to avoid a shutout. The two-point conversion failed when Culpepper threw behind Chambers in the corner of the end zone and an onside kick was recovered by Buffalo.

Ronnie Brown had 70 yards on 15 carries and added a team-best six catches for 52 yards for Miami, which is 0-2 for the sixth time in team history. None of the previous five teams finished better than 6-10.

The Dolphins wound up outgaining Buffalo 282-171. Willis McGahee and the offensive line showed what they were capable of as Buffalo's top back rolled up 91 yards on the day, and the team had a total of 105 rushing yards. It kept the Dolphins pass rush on its heels.

Losman had a steady game managing the offense and mixing in some successful throws to complement McGahee on the ground. He finished 11-18 for only 82 total yards.


* Bills punter Brian Moorman had six punts in the game; five were downed inside the Miami 20 and four inside the Miami 10.
* Miami lost 60 yards in the seven sacks against Culpepper.

Buffalo Football Report Top Stories