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Bills defense rises to occasion

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills reminded everyone they can, in fact, finish after all.

For only the second time this season, the Bills came through with clutch defensive plays to close out a tenacious opponent. They defeated the Miami Dolphins, 19-14, in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The game ended a month of losing, and the result was nearly identical to the 19-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week Six. In that game, Bills safety Jairus Byrd came up with an interception in overtime to set up Rian Lindell's winning field goal.

Byrd made a critical interception Thursday night, too, making an amazing sideline grab right after the two-minute warning. The Dolphins managed to get another possession, but linebacker Bryan Scott, who dropped an interception last week against the New England Patriots, snagged one to lock down the Bills' victory.

"That was big-time," Bills linebacker Nick Barnett said of the final two minutes. "Byrd has been making plays like that all year. I thought he made some great plays like that in Arizona. He's that type of player, and Bryan is as well.

"That's what you have to do. You have to come up with big plays. When it's put on our shoulders, we've got to be able to carry it. I thought we did a good job with that. We've been put in situations where we could win the game before, and we didn't."

Buffalo's defense was strong in all areas. It stuffed Dolphins running backs Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush for three quarters. The pass defense wasn't highlighted by the interceptions as much as the pressure it put on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

"They did a good job up front," Tannehill said. "When they weren't bringing safeties down, their front seven were doing a good job of shedding blocks and making tackles.

"There were a few times when I turned around there was really just nowhere to run. That's with no safeties being there, too. So you've got to credit to their front seven for doing a good job of making it difficult to run."

The Bills sacked Tannehill three times and registered five quarterback hits. The Bills also were credited with five pass breakups, with defensive linemen Marcell Dareus and Alex Carrington batting down a couple.

Defensive end Kyle Moore was a revelation. He had one sack and caused another, chasing Tannehill straight into Shawne Merriman's arms.

Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski pointed out before the game that had Moore ranked as the ninth-best edge rusher in the entire league entering Week 11.'s rating factors sacks, quarterback hits and hurries.

Bills defensive end Mario Williams had his third straight impressive game. He had four tackles, a sack and two tackles for losses.

"That's how it's supposed to be," Williams said. "It doesn't matter who we face. As long as we play fundamental football, gap-sound football, this has got to be the result."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |