MIAMI (AP) — Center Mike Pouncey and the Miami Dolphins can breathe a little easier.
Despite being bowled over by the blitzing Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins got the help they needed to remain standing in what’s become a convoluted race for the AFC’s final playoff spot entering the final week.
Now it’s time for the Dolphins (8-7) to do make something of their second chance in preparing to host the Jets this weekend.
“It’s disappointing. But we still have something to look for,” Pouncey said following a 19-0 loss to Buffalo on Sunday.
The Dolphins’ loss to Buffalo clinched the Patriots top spot in the AFC East. The Patriots repaid Miami by beating the Ravens to set up a frantic final weekend in which Miami, Baltimore (8-7), San Diego (8-7) and Pittsburgh (7-8) all have a chance.
That’s a relief for the Dolphins, who were left stung by a game in which they allowed seven sacks, managed just 103 yards of offense and six first downs.
“It’s not acceptable. Those are the facts,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ve got to play a lot better next week. That’s the situation we’re in.”
The Bills (6-9), who had been eliminated from contention a week earlier, took consolation in knowing they were able to put a dent in their division rival’s chances.
“It’s a bittersweet deal,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “It’s a nice consolation for where we are. I think you’ve seen today potentially what we can do.”
Williams and cornerback Nickell Robey had two sacks apiece in helping Buffalo up its total to 56 to set a single-season record. That eclipses the mark of 50 Buffalo had in a 14-game season in 1964.
On offense, Fred Jackson had 111 yards rushing and scored on a 9-yard run. Dan Carpenter hit all four field-goal attempts, including a 45-yarder.
Here’s five more things that helped the Bills close their home schedule with a win:
SACK ATTACK: The Bills blitz took advantage of the Dolphins’ patchwork offensive line that has now surrendered a single-season worst 58 sacks.
“That was a pretty good beating,” Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. “They were flying around. They were getting off the ball and they just looked a step faster than Miami did all day.”
Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes and Da’Norris Searcy had a sack each. Add it up, and the Bills now have three players with at least 10 sacks — Mario Williams (13), Kyle Williams (10½) and Hughes (10) — for only the second time since 1995. And they’re the first NFL team with three since the 2000 Saints.
NO OFFENSE: The Dolphins crossed into Bills territory only three times, and converted just two of 14 third-down chances. After managing just four first downs in the first half, Miami mustered two more.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill finished 10 of 27 for 82 yards and he briefly left the game early in the fourth quarter after hurting his left knee following Kyle Williams’ second sack. Matt Moore took over and wound up throwing two interceptions.
THAD TO THE RESCUE: Bills backup Thad Lewis started in place of injured rookie EJ Manuel (swollen left knee) and improved to 2-2 this season. Both wins have come against Miami, where Lewis grew up.
Lewis finished 15 of 25 for 193 yards and an interception. He helped secure the win by engineering a 19-play, 92-yard drive that took 9:16 off the clock and capped by Carpenter’s 21-yard field goal to put Buffalo ahead 13-0 with 12:01 left.
EJECTION: Bills rookie receiver Robert Woods was ejected in the third quarter for punching Dolphins safety Reshad Jones in the face mask following a play in the third quarter.
That left Buffalo down its top three receivers. Rookie Marquise Goodwin didn’t return after hurting his right knee in the first quarter. Starter Stevie Johnson was excused to be with his family following the death of his mother.
BENCHED: Bills coach Doug Marrone revealed after the game that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus was benched for the first quarter for violating undisclosed team rules.
“We respect each other, me and Marrone. We don’t have any differences,” Dareus said. “You suffer the consequences, roll along with them the best you can.”
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