Written by Steven Wilson | Twitter: @stevenjwilson11
In their second-straight home game, the Miami Dolphins defense has not allowed a touchdown to their opponents. But, the Phins secondary and linebacking corp. seemed undermanned for most of the first half against Buffalo on Thursday night.
Although Bills quarterback Kyle Orton’s rating was only 69.7, he still seemed to have a lot of time to throw the rock and managed to gain 193 yards through the air going 22-for-39. Meanwhile, the Dolphins defense held the Bills to just 54 yards on the ground, granted their top two running backs were out with injuries.
When asked if he was concerned early about the lack of pressure on Orton, Head Coach Joe Philbin said, “A little bit. But again, I thought our defensive staff did a great job and [defensive coordinator] Kevin [Coyle] talked to the guys at halftime. They got the ball off quick, too. It wasn’t like they were sitting back there and they weren’t throwing the ball down the field a whole lot. I thought we did a better job certainly in the second half.”
Miami trailed 9-3 before outscoring its AFC East rival 19-0 over the final 18 minutes with the biggest turning point coming on a safety in the second half.
“You know it was a turning point in the game and it was just a great team effort,” said defensive end Jared Odrick. “It was a great defensive effort. Coach was putting us in the right place at the right time, and we were able to make plays.”
Miami led 10-9 before adding a safety when Orton was flagged for intentional grounding from the end zone. Under pressure from Olivier Vernon, Orton threw a pass that landed closer to the Bills' sideline than to any player.
“It was huge,” continued Odrick. “I think it was the turning point in the game. Momentum really just took over and the spirit of the Dolphin was within us.”
Whether it was the spirit of the Dolphin or the stymieing defense, the Bills had two drives they failed to finish in the first half and managed to score just 9 total points.
The Bills, who ranked last in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency coming into the game, mounted grinding drives of 67 and 85 yards on their first two possessions. But Miami held them to a field goal each time, and those were their best TD chances.
“It kind of set the tone for how we were playing the defense in the second half,” said Philbin about the safety and his team’s late momentum. “That continued after that, after the fumble, on the punt…we did a great job defensively there and stopping them on fourth down a couple of times. I think it just kind of set the tone for how we were playing.”
With the win, the Dolphins improved to 6-4 this year − their best record after 10 games since 2008.