Dansby-led D leads Dolphins to beat Bills 15-10Sep 12, 2010 - 10:16 PM By JOHN WAWROW AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Karlos Dansby wasted little time making an impression as the centerpiece of the Miami Dolphins' new-look defense.
Opening with a sack three plays into a 15-10 season-opening win over Bills on Sunday, the linebacker finished his debut with a team-leading eight tackles in helping limit Buffalo to a mere 166 yards.
"I'm not surprised," said Dansby, the former Arizona star who became the Dolphins' top offseason free-agent addition after signing a five-year $43 million contract. "We expected to come here and win like this. It didn't have to be pretty."
Lack of style points aside, the defense - under new coordinator Mike Nolan and starting two rookies - was stout and effective in a game Miami never trailed.
Except for allowing the Bills' hurry-up attack to cut the lead to 13-10 on Roscoe Parrish's 31-yard touchdown catch with 5:13 left, the Dolphins kept Buffalo thoroughly at bay. The Bills had had nine first downs, endured six three-and-outs, and managed just 72 yards offense and five first downs on their first nine possessions.
Ronnie Brown scored on a 1-yard plunge and Dan Carpenter made field goals of 43 and 32 yards as Miami snapped a five-game skid at Buffalo (not including a 16-3 win in 2008 at Toronto) and opened the season with a win for the first time since 2005.
And starting fast was the message instilled by coach Tony Sparano, who had a clock erected in the Dolphins' locker room counting down the hours, minutes and seconds in leading up to Sunday's game as a reminder of how important it was for his team to be focused after opening last season 0-3.
"The clock started like 120 days ago, and finally getting in here and accomplishing that mission, I think that's the best feeling," said linebacker Cameron Wake, who added a sack and three tackles.
The clock meanwhile remains stuck on Groundhog Day for the Bills, whose offense had a familiar popgun appearance to it in Chan Gailey's debut as coach.
"Frustrating is a good word to use," quarterback Trent Edwards said. "We just shot ourselves in the foot."
Penalties, missed blocking assignments, the lack of a running attack and a limited deep-threat attack all hurt an offense that was booed off the field two possessions in when Edwards checked down to hit Lee Evans over the middle for a 2-yard gain on third-and-12.
Things didn't get any better in the second half when, trailing 10-3, the Bills squandered numerous chances to get back in the game. The first two drives - both starting in Miami territory - ended with three-and-outs. Then the Bills went backward on their third series, courtesy of two holding penalties.
"If fingers need to be pointed, they need to be pointed back at me," Gailey said. "We didn't play well enough to win, and that's my responsibility."
The only time the Bills showed any rhythm came when they switched to the hurry-up mode with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter. Edwards marched the Bills 85 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive by hitting Parrish for the touchdown on fourth-and-11.
It proved too little too late.
Backed up to their own 1 on their next possession, the Bills gave up a safety in a bid to get better field position. The gamble didn't work. They got the ball back at their own 20 with 36 seconds left, but the game ended after Edwards' 9-yard completion to David Nelson.
The Bills showed none of the offensive spark they displayed through the preseason.
Edwards finished 18 of 34 for 139 yards, and was nearly intercepted three times. Rookie first-round pick C.J. Spiller had 6 yards on seven carries after scoring three TDs in the preseason.
Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall had an effective debut since being acquired in an offseason trade with Denver. He finished with team-leading eight catches for 53 yards. Chad Henne went 21 for 34 for 182 yards passing.
Marshall directed the credit to Miami's defense.
"Our defense holding them to 166 total yards is amazing," Marshall said. "We feed off each other."
The Dolphins spent the offseason retooling an aging unit that finished 22nd in the league last year, when it allowed 379 yards per game - Miami's worst season since 1989. Rookie second-round pick, linebacker Koa Misi finished with a sack and four tackles.
"It feels great to be 1-0. It's a good first step," Sparano said. "It validates some of the things we've been talked about. The guys in that locker room believed in it."
NOTES: Bills LB Paul Posluszny did not return after hurting his right knee on the first play of the second half. Gailey said the player will have tests to determine the severity of the injury. ... Dolphins rookie first-round draft pick DE Jared Odrick did not return after leaving the field in the third quarter with a foot injury. ... Bills PK Rian Lindell hit a 51-yard field goal, but was short on an NFL record-tying 63-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter.
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
MIAMI 3 7 0 5 15
BUFFALO 0 3 0 7 10 FINAL
1ST QUARTER: MIA - FG, DAN CARPENTER 32 YD, 6:06.
2ND QUARTER: MIA - TD, RONNIE BROWN 1 YD RUN (DAN
CARPENTER KICK), 3:48. MIAMI
BUF - FG, RIAN LINDELL 51 YD, 7:52.
Sep 12 4:06 PM
BUFFALO 10 0:00 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Sep 12 4:06 PM
BUFFALO 10 1:32 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Dolphins 15, Bills 10 4th - 1:33Sep 12 3:55 PM
BUFFALO 10 5:13 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Dolphins 13, Bills 10 4th - 5:13Sep 12 3:39 PM
DAN CARPENTER 43 YD
BUFFALO 3 9:32 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Dolphins 13, Bills 3 4th - 9:37Sep 12 3:28 PM
BUFFALO 3 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Sep 12 3:17 PM
BUFFALO 3 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Sep 12 2:19 PM
RIAN LINDELL 51 YD
BUFFALO 3 7:08 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Dolphins 10, Bills 3 2nd - 7:13Sep 12 1:54 PM
BUFFALO 0 11:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Dolphins 10, Bills 0 2nd - 11:12Sep 12 1:46 PM
BUFFALO 0 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Sep 12 1:35 PM
DAN CARPENTER 32 YD
BUFFALO 0 8:54 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Dolphins 3, Bills 0 1st - 8:57Sep 12 1:12 PM
- Jaguars' Fowler returns, ready for bigger role after injury May 23
- Bills' Lawson to have shoulder surgery; Watkins' foot hurt May 17
- Veteran DE Jason Jones signs with Dolphins May 16
- AP source: Jones in final stages of talks with Dolphins May 13
- Buffalo Bills sign 5th-round draft pick, Jonathan Williams May 13
- Buffalo Bills sign 6th-round draft pick, receiver Listenbee May 12
- Buffalo Bills to retire Bruce Smith's No. 78 at home opener May 11
- Buffalo Bills claim running back Dri Archer off waivers May 10
- Raiders sign free-agent DE Damontre Moore May 10
- Wake signs $15 million, 2-year deal with Dolphins May 7
- After draft freefall, Tunsil finds bearings with Dolphins May 7
- Bills take step-at-a-time approach to groom QB Cardale Jones May 7