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Bills Win Thriller In Miami 23-21
Carpenter beats former team with winning kick.
by Steve Saslow
at
Week 7
Bills  23
Dolphins  21
Gameday Grades
The Skinny:
Sometimes the fairy tale does come true. Dolphins reject Dan Carpenter hit his third field goal of the game from 31 yards out with :33 left to give the Bills a come from ahead 23-21 road division win. The Bills were in position to win thanks to the Williams boys. Mario Williams forced a Ryan Tannehill fumble that was recovered by Kyle Williams in Miami territory. Fred Jackson, gutting it out after aggravating his knee injury twice, had a huge 10 yard run to convert a third down and allowed the Bills to run the clock down. The Dolphins still had their chance at a hail mary after Tannehill narrowly avoided a sack twice by Super Mario and sent a pass sailing into the end zone where it was knocked down. The Bills opened up a 14-0 first quarter lead as Nickell Robey intercepted Tannehill's first pass and returned it 19 yards for the first points of the game. Jackson ran it in from the three for the Bills second touchdown. They wouldn't find the end zone again however as Miami roared back to take a 21-17 lead on three Tannehill touchdowns including two to Brandon Gibson. Carpenter has now hit 15 straight field goals as he hit from 39 and 20 yards earlier in the game.

The Turning Point:
The Fumble: It obviously is the play Super Mario and Kyle Williams made. If Mario doesn't hit Tannehill forcing the fumble that Kyle fell on, the Bills almost certainly lose. Miami would have run most of the clock out and probably would have extended their lead.

The Big Drive:
The Winning FG Drive: It wasn't pretty but it was effective. They went 21 yards in 7 plays and got the big first down run from Jackson that was very Thurman Thomas-esque.

Stat I Did Like:
Miami On 3rd Downs In 1st Half: Miami went 0 for 7 on third downs in the opening half. They went 3 for 6 the rest of the way.

Stat I Didn't Like:
Miami's Rushing Attack: One of the league's most anemic ground attacks ran for 120 yards on just 25 carries.

Quick Slants:
- Miami may not have any blackouts because the owner buys the seats but the crowd is pathetic. Almost more empty seats than filled ones and there were almost no fans in the seats when the third quarter started.
- The Bills had three cornerbacks on the inactive list but started the same defense as last week with Aaron Williams and Leodis McKelvin at CB and Da'Norris Searcy and Jim Leonhard starting at safety. Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore saw a lot of playing time.
- The Bills tried to make up for a lack of screen passes this season by trying several early in this game with varying success.
- Former Dolphin Dan Carpenter hit his all three of his field goal attempts while his replacement in Miami Caleb Sturgis misses his only try, a 51 yard attempt.

Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article:
RT Erik Pears vs. DE Cameron Wake: Winner: Pears. Wake didn't get close to Lewis.
WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Brent Grimes: Winner: Johnson. He made big plays in big spots and led the team with 61 yards on six catches.
DE Mario Williams vs. LT Jonathan Martin: Winner: Williams. He took over the game in the fourth quarter.
LB Kiko Alonso vs. QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Lamar Miller: Winner: Tannehill and Miller. The rookie had his first subpar game but still made a few plays.

Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out:
1. Pressure Tannehill: Success! In the fourth quarter but failed in the first three. The big sack by Mario won the game for Buffalo.
2. Stop The Run: Failure! Miami's running attack get healthy in a hurry with a 4.8 yard per rush.
3. Learn To Win On The Road: Success! They blew the lead but never gave up as they came back for the W.

My Take:
My heart stopped when Tannehill escaped Mario not once but twice and lofted the hail mary to the end zone. The defeatist in me had thoughts of a crushing unbelievable loss dancing in my head. When the ball fell quietly incomplete my heart re-started and I could celebrate the win. It wasn't easy and they did blow in early lead like they have so many times over the years on the road. This team is different, they tightened up and won a game with their practice squad quarterback and two gimpy running backs. The defense came up huge in big spots and made the plays that led directly or indirectly to 10 points. They did what they needed to do last week and came away with a hard fought road win against a division opponent to boot. The character of this team is growing every day and it shows in their leader, Fred Jackson who is as great a football warrior this team has seen in a long time.

What's Ahead:
Things don't get easier for the Bills as they travel to the Big Easy to take on the Saints. It will be the second straight game against a team coming off a bye. I will be there to watch this one but since I'm on vacation there will likely be no Bills Blitz or grades next week. It may not be a game that you would want to read about anyway.

Gameballs
  • Dan Carpenter - 3 for 3 including the game winner against the team that cut him? Couldn't ask for a better script.
  • Mario Williams - Took over the game in the fourth quarter. They don't win the game without him.
  • Fred Jackson - He showed incredible strength in playing through that injury. His play inspired the whole team and he made big plays in big spots despite playing on one leg.


  • Goats
  • Stephon Gilmore - Not his fault but he shouldn't be on the field with one hand. Bad penalty and beaten many times.
  • Kiko Alonso - Was only in on four tackles and was called for a penalty.


  • Player Of The Week
  • Dan Carpenter - A great performance in a great season for the Miami reject.


  • Positional Breakdown and Grades
    NFL.com Gamebook
    Dolphins Game Preview
    Gameday Homepage




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