ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Buffalo’s dynamic Clemson connection provided the electricity to an already charged-up Bills crowd.
In capping a home opener celebrating the franchise’s proud past and suddenly promising future, C.J. Spiller returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown in a 29-10 win over AFC East rival Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon. Rookie Sammy Watkins scored on a 12-yard catch.READ MORE: South Florida PBA Union President Steadman Stahl On Stress Of Being A Police Officer
The Dolphins (1-1) also lost a key offseason addition when running back Knowshon Moreno did not return after hurting his left elbow 11 minutes in.
Dan Carpenter hit five field goals and the Bills had four sacks in helping Buffalo get off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2011, and only the sixth time since 2000.
The game began with a tribute to Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who died in March. And it came during an uplifting week in which the franchise’s long-term future was essentially secured: Wilson’s trust reached a “definitive agreement” to sell the team to NHL Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula for an NFL-record $1.4 billion.
The sold-out crowd had plenty to celebrate in the third quarter after Miami’s Caleb Sturgis hit a 34-yard field goal to cut Buffalo’s lead to 9-3. The Bills put the game away by scoring twice.
Spiller struck first on the ensuing kickoff by bursting through a hole up the right hash mark. Kelvin Sheppard was the only Dolphin to get his hand on Spiller, who had a clear path to the end zone once Sturgis missed a diving tackle at the Buffalo 35.
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The Dolphins replied with Mike Wallace making a one-handed catch for a 7-yard touchdown.
Watkins, with his first career touchdown, capped the Bills’ next drive with a 12-yard catch set up by Spiller’s 47-yard run. EJ Manuel hit Watkins on a crossing pattern over the middle, and the receiver got the ball just inside the right pylon.
Spiller was Buffalo’s 2010 first-round draft pick out of Clemson. And the Bills traded up to select Watkins with the No. 4 pick in the draft in May.
Watkins finished with eight catches for 117 yards, and Spiller added 69 yards rushing.READ MORE: Shot Doral Police Officer In Serious But Stable Condition, Second Officer Recovering
Manuel went 16 of 26 for 202 yards in building on his promising performance in a season-opening 23-20 overtime win at Chicago.
Very little went right for the Dolphins’ offense, which failed to carry over momentum from last weekend’s 33-20 win over New England. The big blow came when Moreno was hurt on his first carry. Driving up the middle for a 4-yard gain, Moreno was initially hit on the right side by Nickell Robey. Nigel Bradham then struck Moreno from the left, hitting him directly in the arm.
Moreno, with Denver last season, had an NFL-leading 134 yards rushing entering Week 2.
Moreno’s backup Lamar Miller finished with 11 carries for 46 yards.
The Dolphins were limited to six first downs and 62 yards offense in the opening half, and never advanced past their 41.
Ryan Tannehill went 31 of 49 for 241 yards with a touchdown and interception.
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