Bills Knock Dolphins Out Of AFC Playoff Hunt
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Buffalo Bills remain on the rise, while the Miami Dolphins are headed nowhere fast.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes Sunday for the resurgent Bills, who won 17-14 to eliminate Miami from the AFC playoff race.
Meanwhile, the Jets are on the verge of clinching an AFC playoff berth that appeared to be slipping away after New York’s near-desperation 22-17 victory in Pittsburgh.
The Dolphins, who have won only once in Miami this season, again looked woeful at home and inept on offense. Chad Henne threw a costly interception and took three sacks, and the ground game netted only 65 yards against a run defense ranked last in the NFL.
As a result, Miami will sit out the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.
“I want to apologize to the defensive guys,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. “Offensively all year we didn’t get the job done. It’s embarrassing.”
Buffalo (4-10) won for the fourth time in six games after starting 0-8, while Miami (7-7) lost for the eighth time in nine home games over the past two seasons. This year, Miami is 1-6 at home and 6-1 on the road, and no team has ever had such a disparity, according to STATS LLC.
Fans began booing in the second quarter, and the last jeers came after a final, comically futile play.
“They’ve been booing the last couple of weeks, so I guess we’re used to it,” Henne said. “It’s a sick feeling for us not to have home-field advantage.”
On a 67-degree December afternoon, the visitors from snowy New York made themselves at home.
“Anytime you get into somebody’s stadium and you hear boos from the home crowd, their crowd is actually working against them, and it’s like it’s our home crowd,” safety Donte Whitner said. “So we love boo birds when we’re on the road.”
The Bills were woeful in a season-opening loss at home against the Dolphins, but that was before Fitzpatrick took over at quarterback. He went 16 for 26 for 223 yards in the rematch.
“I said when we were 0-8, you need to get one win and then they start coming,” Fitzpatrick said.
Miami actually outgained Buffalo, but Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter went 0 for 4, missing from 48, 61, 53 and 48 yards.
By contrast, the Bills made the most of their chances. Fitzpatrick was at his best on an 86-yard drive in the third quarter. He completed two third-down passes, then threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Steve Johnson for a 17-7 lead.
An interception by George Wilson and a 34-yard punt return by C.J. Spiller set up the Bills’ other scores.
“That was probably as good a team win as we’ve had,” first-year coach Chan Gailey said. “Almost every guy that stepped on the field contributed something.”
Miami tried to rally in the fourth. Henne completed passes on seven consecutive plays to spark a 77-yard drive that ended with his 8-yard scoring pass to Marshall, making it 17-14.
“Earlier in the year, we’d find ways to lose games like this,” Buffalo receiver David Nelson said.
This time the Bills hung on. The Dolphins got the ball back at their own 20 and drove to the Buffalo 30, but Carpenter was wide right on a 48-yard try with 1:48 left.
“I just didn’t hit the ball well all day,” he said. “It hurts knowing you cost your team a chance to win.”
Miami started again from the 20 with 41 seconds to go but no timeouts remaining, and four plays failed to advance the ball beyond the 35.
That ensured the Dolphins will miss the playoffs.
“It’s tough to swallow, because we feel like we do have a good team,” Henne said. “We just didn’t put it together.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.