Buffalo Week Takes On Even More Importance For Dolphins

Posted Nov 13, 2012

Familiar foe heightens the intensity in primetime.

Through their first nine games of the season, the Miami Dolphins only faced one division opponent from the AFC East – the New York Jets. A win Thursday night at the Buffalo Bills under the lights would move them to 2-1 inside the division.

So in addition to playing in front of a national television audience, Miami has all sorts of motivation to come out firing against Buffalo, not the least of which is to put the bad taste of last week’s loss to Tennessee behind them. A sweep of the Bills last year was cemented on the road in a 30-23 win in the snow and the Dolphins would love to repeat that outcome this time around.

“It’s big, especially on a short week,” said Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito, who helped pave the way for running back Reggie Bush to rush for 203 yards last year in Buffalo. “We know them well, we know their personnel well, we know the schemes they play, we know they’re solid up front and it’s going to be an intense game. Their front seven did a real good job against the Patriots stopping the run and they have an athletic group up front, so our challenge is getting the run game back untracked. We’re going into hostile territory and it’s going to be fun.”

Bush literally iced the game last December with a 76-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that he capped off by sliding on the ice and snow into the end zone. Second-year running back Daniel Thomas last year and he still remembers that because it was his first snow game and that the field was in better condition than he expected.

The defense for Miami is looking to bounce back from allowing its first 100-yard rusher in 22 games last week (Tennessee’s Chris Johnson rushed for 126 yards) and face another elusive and speedy running back in Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller. More importantly, they realize the opportunity that lies in front of them in the AFC East as far as gaining ground on first-place New England.

“It’s a little different how the schedule’s been this year because by now we would have already played at least two different opponents in the division,” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “This is a different team that we’re facing just for the fact that they love to throw it a lot and they’re more organized in what they do as far as how they like to do things. They’ve got a lot of weapons so for us it’s just all about executing and in this short week just getting in the game plan and knowing everything we have to do in just 48 hours. But we can get two-for-one in the division with a victory, which is huge.”

Bush enjoyed how the Jets rivalry played out this season, specifically the last meeting that resulted in a 30-9 road victory for Miami, so he understands what’s at stake Thursday night. Besides the fact that he put up career-best numbers at Buffalo last year, he is looking at this last half of the season and the fact that four of the last seven games are against AFC East foes.

A win against Buffalo would get the Dolphins back to .500 on the season with the Patriots coming to South Florida two weeks from Sunday, so this game could set the tone for a stretch run.

“I think the intensity does ramp up a little bit because this is an opponent that we’re going to see twice,” Bush said. “The first game always carries over a little bit to that second game, whatever happens, so this first game against Buffalo of that two-game series is going to be important for us. I think we’re all a little happy to have this game on Thursday because it gives us a chance to erase this last game and get back to a football game very quickly.”

This will be rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s first trip to Buffalo and first taste of the Dolphins-Bills rivalry, but he has been prepared well by the veterans in his locker room. He is ready for the raucous environment and for the cold weather in upstate New York.

Head Coach Joe Philbin is keeping his players focused on one game at a time but he is also making them aware of how the division race can be impacted by the outcome of this particular game.

“Obviously it’s a division game and a road game so it’s significant from that point,” he said. “ But really let’s face it, after the way we played the other day we’ve just got to go out and play football, our style of football. That’s what really has to happen.”

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