MIAMI – Terrell Owens made three catches Sunday – not great, but not bad considering his team seldom had the ball.
The Miami Dolphins finally won at keepaway, rushing for 250 yards and controlling the ball for 37 minutes to earn their first victory by beating hapless Buffalo Bills 38-10.
One week after being held without a catch, Owens was limited to 60 yards receiving. That was far from the only problem for the Bills (1-3), who struggled to block and tackle as they lost their third game in a row.
“We just have to go back to the drawing board,” a subdued Owens said. “We’re a couple of plays from being 3-1 or 4-0. We just have to execute as a team, and obviously we haven’t done that.”
Miami came into the game 0-3 despite a strong running attack and an 11-minute edge per game in time of possession, and the grinding ground game finally paid off.
With quarterback Chad Henne making his first NFL start, the Dolphins mounted scoring drives of 65, 66 and 65 yards. They were 11-for-19 on third-and fourth-down conversions – a category in which they already led the league.
“That’s what we want to do – pound the ball and wear guys down,” tackle Jake Long said. “It starts up front, and our running backs were relentless and bulling through people.”
Henne, a second-year pro, shook off six sacks and managed the game well in his first start replacing Chad Pennington, sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury. Henne finished 14-for-22 for 115 yards and no turnovers, and he threw his first NFL touchdown pass, a five-yarder to rookie Brian Hartline.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Henne said. “Overall we did a wonderful job. Everybody deserves credit for this win.”
Wildcat success helped Henne. The Dolphins used the formation nine times for 58 yards, including a 38-yard run by Ronnie Brown, their longest gain this season. Brown ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns, and Ricky Williams added 85 and one score.
“Those 30-and 40-yard runs add up quickly,” Bills defensive end Ryan Denney said.
They added up to a 28-point margin of victory, Miami’s largest since Sept. 8, 2002.
The injury-plagued Bills gave up 31 points in a 24-minute span while their offence sputtered throughout. Trent Edwards was sacked six times and intercepted three times, with rookie Vontae Davis scoring on a 23-yard return.
The Bills have lost eight consecutive games against AFC East opponents. Of more immediate concern, they have been outscored 65-17 in the past two games.
“This is an embarrassing day,” defensive end Chris Kelsay said.
Owens had a four-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage and caught a long pass for a 39-yard gain to set up a field goal. But for the most part Buffalo struggled to exploit a Miami secondary that had given up big plays in bunches.
Cornerback Will Allen intercepted a pass intended for Owens to set up a touchdown. With Joey Porter out because of a hamstring injury, Dolphins newcomer Cameron Wake picked up the pass-rushing slack and had his first three NFL sacks.
“Winning feels good whether I get two sacks, 25 sacks or zero sacks,” said Wake, who signed with Miami in the off-season after two seasons with the CFL’s B.C. Lions.
The Bills were 1-for-11 on third-down conversions. Marshawn Lynch, playing for the first time this season following a suspension, was held to 4 yards rushing in eight carries.
The Dolphins, who totalled 43 points in their three losses, took control by scoring five times in the second and third quarters. The Bills hardly had the ball during that stretch – even a 27-yard TD drive by the Dolphins took five minutes.
Miami’s first touchdown came quickly, though. On the first play following a field goal, Davis stepped in front of a pass intended for Josh Reed to make the interception and score untouched.
“I was surprised,” Davis said. “I saw the football and went, ‘wow.’ I just knew I had to catch it.”
It was Miami’s first interception this season.
“That throw shouldn’t have been made, to be honest,” Edwards said. “If I was able to see, him I wouldn’t throw it again.”
Notes: Miami had 17 first downs rushing to none for the Bills. … Buffalo has given up 472 yards rushing in the past two games. … Hartline’s first career TD reception was the first scoring catch by a Miami wideout this season. … Edwards threw to Owens seven times.