Game Preview: Buffalo at Miami

The Dolphins still face an uphill climb to make the playoffs and they need to do their part by taking care of Buffalo, Detroit and New England in their last three games. The Bills come to Sun Life Stadium on Sunday fresh off a victory over Cleveland and playing better than a team with a 3-10 record figures to. Here's a breakdown of the matchup.

WHO: Buffalo Bills (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (7-6)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

SITE: Sun Life Stadium

SURFACE: Natural grass/Field Turf

TV: CBS, Bill Macatee, Rich Gannon


KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills have to alter their basic approach without field-stretching WR Lee Evans (ankle). Coach Chan Gailey called a conservative game after losing Evans last week and would ideally like to run the offense through RB Fred Jackson. That would help protect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - the Dolphins have 35 sacks - but Miami also allows just 3.6 yards per carry. The Bills want to rattle Dolphins QB Chad Henne, who was sacked five times and lost two fumbles last week. The Bills' 32nd-ranked run defense invites Miami to pound the ball with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.

FAST FACTS: The Bills have seven takeaways in the last two games. ... Brown and Williams combined for 200 rushing yards against the Bills in Miami last season.



If the Bills could rewrite history, they would gladly trade one defensive end/linebacker who played at Penn State and was born in Maryland with another defensive end/linebacker who played at Penn State and was born in Maryland.

In January 2009, Buffalo was in the running for two-time Canadian Football League Defensive Player of the Year Cameron Wake. But Wake chose to sign with the rival Miami Dolphins, forcing the Bills to use the 11th overall pick in the draft on Aaron Maybin.

Two years later, Wake leads the NFL in sacks with 14 while Maybin is a spare player in Buffalo whose future is in question.

"He's a guy you have to account for on every play," said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who leads Buffalo (3-10) against Miami (7-6) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. "We've played some good pass rushers this year and he's definitely up with the best of them. He's having a great year."

Wake, 6-3, 250, has traveled a circuitous route to NFL stardom. He was a 2005 rookie free agent with the New York Giants but was cut. He spent 2006 as a mortgage banker, then went north to the CFL where he polished his game. In two seasons with the B.C. Lions, he totaled 39 sacks, drawing interest from 17 NFL teams. Eight, including Buffalo, offered deals.

Miami's was a tad better and Wake liked the situation with the Dolphins more. He signed for what was reportedly the richest CFL-to-NFL contract ever: four years worth $4.9 million with $1 million guaranteed. Chump change, in hindsight, but he's due for a big raise coming off this season.

The Bills don't want to provide more fuel for Wake's renegotiation. In a 15-10 Miami win over Buffalo in Week 1, Wake had three tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and two passes defended. In his first NFL start in '09, which came against Buffalo, he recorded 2.5 sacks.

"Quick. He is very, very quick and he's relentless," coach Chan Gailey said when asked what he sees on tape watching Wake. "He has a good feel for it (pass rushing). He understands when he's got leverage on a tackle - whether it's underneath leverage or whether he's got outside leverage - and he's able to take advantage of it."

Gailey said it appears the Dolphins move Wake around considerably but he appears faster when he rushes from the left side. That would put him over Bills right tackle Mansfield Wrotto.

"It's hard to find him. You have to make sure you scheme ways to find him and give some help because he is a really good pass rusher," Gailey said.


While the Dolphins' defense is No. 5 in the league's overall rankings, the offense has slipped to 22nd and is trending badly.

"We can't continue to exist with as little a passing game as we had last week," Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning said after a 30-yard net passing performance against the Jets. "We have to do better than that."

Those 30 net yards -- 55 through the air, minus the 25 lost on five sacks -- came just eight yards shy of matching the Dolphins' franchise low of 22, set in November 1969 against the Oilers.

Which brings us to Chad Henne, who made his share of mistakes, as you would expect.

"We work on the protections," Henning said. "We had a gaffe in the protection where (Henne) got hit. Really, that was his fault and he knows it. He's got to set the protection the other way."

This was the second-and-5 play from the Dolphins' 42 midway through the second quarter when Henne got crushed from behind by Calvin Pace and Sione Pouha recovered to set up the Jets' first field goal.

"We think we had a pretty good pass there," Henning said. "Brandon (Marshall) won on the left side and (Henne) was about to throw it when he got hit. Well, that turns out not to only be not a big play for you but to go the other way. You know what I mean? And then we come out and the ball was slippery on that naked bootleg (from the Jets' 17 in the third quarter) and the ball came out of his hand and we lost it there. We had (Anthony) Fasano open on that."

Instead of going up 13-3 or even 17-3 on a miserable afternoon, Henne lost a fumble and broke one of the basic tenets of Tony Sparano Football: The Red Zone Rules.



-- TE Jonathan Stupar could find himself busier than normal when the Bills face Miami Sunday. Buffalo's wide receiver corps has been depleted further with Lee Evans joining Roscoe Parrish on season-ending injured reserve. The Bills have talked at length about getting the ball to their tight ends more and now it may be a necessity.

-- RT Mansfield Wrotto will be counted on to contain NFL pass-rush leader Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins Sunday. Wake has 14 sacks. And while he's listed as a right outside linebacker, Wake moves around a lot and is most effective rushing from the left side.

-- RB Fred Jackson is 225 yards shy of his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season heading into Sunday's game at Miami. The Dolphins boast the NFL's No. 7 run defense. Jackson had just four attempts for 19 yards in a season-opening loss to Miami but Buffalo was utilizing a three-back rotation at the time. He'll get the bulk of the carries this time around.

-- LB Akin Ayodele is quietly having a strong season filling in at inside linebacker for an injured Andra Davis. Ayodele, who faces the Miami Dolphins, one of his former teams on Sunday, has recorded four games with at least 10 tackles. He's hit double digits three consecutive games, a personal high streak.

-- SS Donte Whitner, who held Cleveland tight Ben Watson to one catch last week, faces another stiff test in Miami's Anthony Fasano. Fasano has 34 catches for 467 yards and four touchdowns; he caught three for 46 yards in Miami's opening day win over the Bills.

-- OLB/DE Chris Kelsay is nursing a sore knee but he'll be fine to play Sunday at Miami. The Bills pass rush has a chance to do well vs. a Miami offensive line dealing with injuries.


-- WR Kevin Curtis is being paid the prorated veteran minimum ($755,000) on a one-year deal. That comes to a little over $133,000 over the final three games.

-- LT Jake Long (hands in pass protection) and WR Davone Bess (route running/catching) were named to the All-Fundamentals Team, sponsored by USA Football and the NFLPA. They were the only Dolphins selected.

-- Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he is "proud" of LG Richie Incognito, who hasn't been flagged for a single personal foul or unnecessary roughness penalty this year after incurring close to $100,000 in NFL fines the past few seasons.

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