ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Mario Williams and the Buffalo Bills’ high-priced defense finally flexed its collective muscle, stuffing the Miami Dolphins in a 19-14 victory Thursday night.
Safety Jairus Byrd forced a fumble and had an interception, and Bryan Scott sealed the victory with an interception that ended the Dolphins’ last-gasp drive in the final minute. Williams had one of three sacks for a Buffalo defense that limited the Dolphins to 184 yards and 16 first downs.
That more than made up for an offense that lacked finish. Rian Lindell hit four field goals, including a 42-yarder, as Buffalo failed to score an offensive touchdown despite four trips inside the Miami 20.
Leodis McKelvin opened the scoring 90 seconds in by returning a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in a game the Bills never trailed.
The Bills (4-6) snapped a three-game skid and won for only the second time in seven games to stay on the fringe of the AFC playoff hunt. Buffalo also ended several other inglorious skids, by beating a division rival for the first time in nine meetings, and snapping an 11-game prime-time drought that dated to 2001.
“It was definitely a must win," Williams said. “With the way things turned out earlier in the season, we’ve got to come out and play like it’s the playoffs. And we’ve got to make plays and we’ve got to finish. It got close there at the end, but I’m glad we came out with it."
Williams was referring to how the Dolphins cut the Bills lead to 19-14 with 8:42 left when Ryan Tannehill hit Davone Bess with a 2-yard touchdown pass. That was as close as they got, as their final two drives ended with the rookie throwing interceptions.
Marcus Thigpen scored on a 96-yard kickoff return for Miami (4-6), which has lost three straight.
Tannehill’s struggles continued. He finished 14 of 28 for 141 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was coming off a dreadful outing in which he threw three interceptions in a 37-3 loss to Tennessee last week. The No. 8 pick out of Texas A&M has thrown six TD passes and 11 interceptions.
“It’s really frustrating, especially with the success earlier in the year," Tannehill said. “Being in situations where we’re going three-and-out or six-and-out, it’s frustrating. We have to be able to find a rhythm and get things going early on."