Week 15: Bills Shutout Dolphins 21-0
Bills continue late season surge with another complete performance.
by Steve Saslow
This was a battle of two teams that were red hot, after the game the Bills are the one remaining that way. J.P. Losman threw touchdown passes to Robert Royal, Josh Reed, and Lee Evans and the defense did the rest as the Bills posted their first shutout since the 2003 season opener.
The defense held off a last minute Miami fury at the one yard line to clinch the shutout win. The ending had all the drama of a fantastic finish but it was the defense that was fantastic shutting down the passing game until the final drive and the running game after a rough first quarter.
The weather was a factor, not the cold but the wind and the rain. It was a warm weather game for the folks from South Florida but Joey Harrington did not know how to deal with the swirling winds while Losman seemed to master them at the right times getting some big plays.
Miami was going into the wind in the first quarter and had two nice drives thanks to the early running of Sammy Morris but both drives ended in fourth down stops as they were just out of field goal range on both occasions. A 4th and 4 pass went for just two yards on their opening possession and a fourth and 1 run was stuffed short of the first down on the second possession. That set the tone of the defense that had six three and outs and two interceptions to earn the shutout.
Offensively they made a few big plays after struggling early. Losman hit Evans for a 37 yard reception that setup Royal's 33 yard touchdown reception as he was wide open as Losman looked off his other receivers before hitting Royal. Pass protection was solid on that play and many others as Losman had time to throw most of the game.
Both teams seemed content with going into the locker room at halftime with the Bills leading 7-0 and when they came out in the 2nd half it looked like Miami would take control after Losman turned the ball over on a hit by Jason Taylor. It was the 2nd turnover for the Bills in the game as Willis McGahee fumbled the ball away in the first quarter. The defense would get it right back on the next play though as Nate Clements picked off a Harrington pass and set the Bills up at their own 45.
The offense marched the 55 yards in 7 plays that was highlighted by two big plays by Reed. He caught a nine yard pass to convert a third down and then made a nice run after the catch on his 27 yard touchdown pass. He broke two tackles at the five and squirted between three Miami defenders and came out unscathed in the end zone to give the Bills a 14-0 lead.
The Bills were in firm control of the game at that point and when Keith Ellison evened the turnover battle with a nice pick of his own. That setup another 7 play touchdown drive as Losman found a wide open Evans for a 21 yard touchdown to make it 21-0.
The only thing left was keeping Miami off the scoreboard and a last minute effort by backup QB Cleo Lemon put the ball at the Bills two but there were four straight incompletions as the clock expired. A late penalty call on Terrence McGee gave Miami one untimed play but Ryan Denney batted the ball away to preserve the shutout.
Back to back complete victories against division opponents is a huge thing for a team that is now amazingly at .500 and still alive in the playoff race. Their chances of making it to the postseason are still very slim but the fact that they have had a huge second half bodes very well for the future of this franchise.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Dolphins: