Buffalo at Miami Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins battle in week-three of the NFL season.

Buffalo Bills (2-0) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 8:30 ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire
SERIES: 75th meeting. Miami enjoys a 46-27-1 all-time advantage, but the Bills won both meetings in 2002. Miami played Buffalo in a home night game in the third week of the 1999 season before a bye week and lost, 23-18.
2003 RANKINGS:

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bills will be playing their second consecutive game in Florida, and although the game will be played at night, dealing with the humidity is a big factor. Buffalo has pass protected well through two games, but needs to create more holes in the running game. Miami's secondary is too strong to attack for four quarters without help from RB Travis Henry. The Dolphins will try to wear the Bills defense out with RB Ricky Williams, but needs better production from WR Derrius Thompson (one reception in two games) to keep Buffalo's strong trio of linebackers from keying in on Williams.

FAST FACTS: The average margin of victory in the series the past three seasons is 16.7. Bills: Buffalo seeks its first 3-0 start since 1991, when it went on to play in Super Bowl XXVI. ... QB Drew Bledsoe's 4,696 career passing yards against Miami are his most against any team. Dolphins: Miami is 16-5 on Sunday nights. ... QB Jay Fiedler's 30-14 career record is second among active quarterbacks.
*2003 rankings: Bills: offense 9th (25th rush, 4th pass); defense 8th (18th rush, 8th pass). Dolphins: offense 10th (9th rush, 17th pass); defense 30th (6th rush, 32nd pass)

PREDICTED SCORE: Dolphins 21-20

PERSONNEL NEWS
Bills:
   --RB Sammy Morris was added to the injury list as questionable with a leg injury for Miami. If he can't go, Joe Burns would move up as the club's third-down back and rookie Terrance McGee would help return kickoffs.
   --RB Willis McGahee, the rookie first-round pick recovering from major knee surgery, is getting closer and closer to hitting the field. "He's doing very well," coach Gregg Williams said. "As far as the exact timetable, I don't know anything more. But I have been watching him work out and he's been doing very well. It's miraculous how far along he is when I watch him work out. I'm not a doctor but he's doing pretty well." The Bills are still hoping for a November return to action for McGahee.
   --QB Drew Bledsoe wasn't sacked against Jacksonville, the first time in 20 games the Bills haven't allowed their quarterback to be taken down. He faces Miami Sunday. Last year in two games, the Dolphins sacked Bledsoe nine times but forced no interceptions and allowed four touchdowns.
   --RB Travis Henry is looking to get back on track against Miami on Sunday after gaining just 26 yards on 21 carries against Jacksonville. In three career games against Miami, Henry has rushed for 380 yards on 76 carries, a healthy 5.0 average.
   --WR Eric Moulds owns Miami's secondary of late. In his past four games against Miami, Moulds has 20 catches for 489 yards and four TDs, including scoring bombs of 80, 70 and 57 yards. He consistently gets the better of his matchup with Pro Bowl CB Sam Madison.
   --LB London Fletcher, who leads the Bills in tackles with 20, has hit double digits in stops in 36 of last 50 NFL games.

Dolphins:
   --S Brock Marion (quadriceps) practiced Thursday and will start Sunday's game against Buffalo. Marion had missed Wednesday's practice after suffering a deep bruise during last Sunday's 21-10 victory over the New York Jets.
   --RB Ricky Williams said he has no plans to cut his hair despite being pulled down by his dreadlocks on a couple of occasions this season, including once by New York Jets linebacker Marvin Jones in last Sunday's 21-10 victory. Williams enters Sunday's game against Buffalo with 51 carries, which is the NFL's second-highest total behind Carolina's Stephen Davis (55).
   --QB Brian Griese (toe) threw on the sidelines during practice again Thursday. Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt is optimistic that Griese can soon begin throwing out of the shotgun formation while easing his way back into a regular practice schedule.
   --KR/PR Charlie Rogers is anxious to show that his 2002 season in Buffalo was an aberration. Rogers, who averaged career lows in punt (5.3 yards) and kickoff (20.0) returns last year with Buffalo, is averaging an additional yard on kickoff returns for the Dolphins but hasn't gotten many quality opportunities on punts through the first two games.
   --RG Todd Perry was penalized in Miami's first two games, but review of the film revealed both fouls weren't his fault. The NFL admitted officials erred when calling him for a false start during a season-opening loss to Houston, while a holding penalty in last Sunday's 21-10 victory over the New York Jets should have been attributed to right tackle Todd Wade.

INSIDE THE CAMPS


Bills:
   Are the Miami Dolphins crazy?
   They've managed to stir up Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds by drumming up a spitting incident between Moulds and Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain during last December's 38-21 Bills victory in Buffalo.
   Moulds said he accidentally sprayed Surtain while the two were trash talking, but he never intentionally spit at him. Surtain has no beef with Moulds, and he and Moulds spent time together during the offseason. But in Miami, defensive tackle Larry Chester said Surtain "is not satisfied" with how things are with Moulds and Chester said he has no respect for Buffalo's Pro Bowl wideout. Safety Brock Marion is also tossing out barbs.
   "I don't have a problem with Pat, but I have a problem with other guys talking about stuff that doesn't concern them," Moulds said. "Marion doesn't even have to cover me. He's safety. You don't hear the corners saying too much because they know they have to play against me every down."
   In his past four games against Miami, Moulds has 20 catches for 489 yards and four touchdowns, including scoring bombs of 80, 70 and 57 yards. He consistently gets the better of his matchup with Pro Bowl CB Sam Madison.
   "I love it," Moulds said. "Every time somebody talks, it seems like I have a good game. I've been fired up ever since I heard that (the Dolphins) feel they were better than us. We feel like we've worked hard this offseason to get to a certain point. I'm going to let my play do my talking there. We'll see what happens."

Dolphins:
   A war of words has emerged between Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain and Buffalo wide receiver Eric Moulds entering Sunday night's game at Pro Player Stadium.
   Surtain claimed Moulds spit in his face during a game last December, causing him to retaliate and get penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. The play proved a pivotal turning point in the game, giving Buffalo momentum as the Bills rolled to a 38-21 victory despite a 228-yard rushing performance by Miami tailback Ricky Williams.
   Earlier this week, Moulds said he spoke with Surtain at the Pro Bowl and ironed out the situation. But during an ESPN interview, Surtain said that wasn't the case.
   "I thought it was dirty what he did," Surtain said. "I don't think it was accidental ... I didn't think it was very professional or manly on his part."
   Still, Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt wants to make sure Surtain and cornerback Sam Madison are more determined on shutting down Moulds than worrying about retaliation. Moulds has 489 receiving yards in his past four games against Miami and is averaging a whopping 62.8 yards on his last five touchdown receptions.
   "We have to be focused on covering and tackling guys," said Wannstedt, whose pass defense is ranked last in the NFL entering Sunday's game. "You can only focus on one thing at a time. Our focus needs to be on playing football."


Scout NFL Network Top Stories