DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) – After the opening week of the NFL season, the AFC East has a bit of an upside-down feel to it.
The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills got through difficult Week 1 assignments. As a result, they might look at their Week 2 opponents with heightened respect.READ MORE: State Attorney General Asley Moody, FDLE Shut Down Fake COVID-19 Driver License Websites
Each will try to get an early leg up on one of their AFC East counterparts as they meet Sunday in Buffalo, the Bills’ first game since a tentative agreement was reached on the sale of the franchise.
The sale, which would ensure the team remains in the city with Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula if it passes a three-quarters majority approval of the other 31 NFL owners, figures to add to the optimism the Bills carry into their home opener.
While Buffalo (1-0) earned a 23-20 overtime victory at Chicago on Sunday, Miami posted a 23-0 second-half scoring advantage to win 33-20 at home over New England.
The Dolphins (1-0) also established an impressive ground game with Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. Moreno debuted for the Dolphins with 134 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while Miller added 58 yards on 11 rushes with a receiving score.
The Dolphins’ revamped offensive line certainly had something to do with it, but they were lauding Moreno.
“Did you see that man out there?” said center Samson Satele, part of an entirely new starting line. “He’s a crazy dude. You give him a little crease and away he goes.”
The unit’s debut also resulted in just one sack of Ryan Tannehill, who had been sacked a league-high 93 times in his first two seasons.
Tannehill wasn’t mistake free, going 18 of 32 for 178 yards, two scores and an interception, but the sustainability of drives was evident with 25 first downs to match the team high from 2013. Miami also outgained New England by a 222-67 margin in the second half.
Mike Wallace caught seven passes for 81 yards and a TD and was refreshed to be running routes that culminated in Tannehill releasing the ball.
“That Ryan was upright most of the game was big for us,” Wallace said.
The Bills didn’t require much from second-year quarterback EJ Manuel, who went 16 of 22 for 173 yards, a TD and an interception, instead maintaining their identity as a running team and recording three takeaways on the other side of the ball.READ MORE: Parkland School Gunman Nikolas Cruz To Plead Guilty To Massacre On Wednesday
Buffalo racked up 193 yards on the ground with an average of 5.8 per carry against a questionable Chicago defense. C.J. Spiller had a team-high 15 carries for 53 yards, but Fred Jackson led the way with 61 yards on seven rushes as the team showed the off-field uncertainty after the death of team owner Ralph Wilson in March hadn’t disrupted preparation.
“It was a great statement win for us to put all that stuff behind and focus on the season,” Jackson said.
Spiller, Jackson and their teammates might have to work a little harder against Miami, which limited New England to 89 rushing yards, its lowest rushing total against the Dolphins in 12 games dating to the 2008 season.
More impressively, the Dolphins shut down Tom Brady’s passing attack, holding the two-time league MVP to 4.45 yards per attempt, the seventh-lowest single-game mark in his career. Miami only held one opponent under that mark a season ago, and it was the considerably less-touted New York Jets combination of Matt Simms and Geno Smith.
Rather than Tannehill picking himself up from the ground, it was Brady who found himself sacked four times. End Cameron Wake had two sacks, both of which resulted in forced fumbles, and was named AFC defensive player of the week.
Success against the Bills might require a different approach and different personnel. New England’s Week 1 pass-to-run ratio was 56-to-20, while Buffalo’s was 22-to-33. Additionally, the Dolphins find themselves hobbled after losing starting linebackers Danell Ellerbee (hip) and Koa Misi (ankle) in the first half.
Ellerbee has been placed on injured reserve, and would-be starter Phillip Wheeler (thumb) was already inactive.
The Buffalo defense is also coming off a demanding test against the Bears, whose 27.8 points per game in 2013 trailed only Denver. Chicago racked up 427 yards of offense as Buffalo also experienced injuries with linebacker Keith Rivers suffering a groin problem and safety Aaron Williams being evaluated for a concussion afterward.
Buffalo won both meetings with Miami last season, including a 19-0 home victory Dec. 22 in which it sacked Tannehill seven times and limited the Dolphins to 103 yards of offense, the third-lowest total in team history.
Watch the Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS 4 your official Dolphins station!
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)MORE NEWS: Miami-Dade AT&T Call Center Evacuated After Bomb Threat
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