NFL Recap (Buffalo-Miami)
Posted: Sun September 13, 1998 at 6:13 p.m. EDT
MIAMI 13, BUFFALO 7
MIAMI (Ticker) -- Olindo Mare booted a pair of second-half field goals and the tandem of running backs Karim Abdul-Jabbar and rookie John Avery burned almost seven minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter as the Miami Dolphins turned back the Buffalo Bills, 13-7.
Mare's 34-yard field goal with 3:29 to play in the third quarter gave the Dolphins (2-0) a 10-7 lead. He added a 27-yarder 2:31 into the fourth quarter for Miami, which recorded eight sacks against a Bills' offensive line that appeared fatigued by the heat and humidity.
"We cannot blame one player, and we can't blame the offensive line," said Bills coach Wade Phillips about the eight sacks. "We have to learn to do the right thing in these situations and simulate them in the practice."
Dan Marino completed 14-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown for Miami, which is off to a 2-0 start for the fifth straight season. Abdul-Jabbar and Avery helped the Dolphins kill 6:39 off the clock in the fourth quarter as Miami was able to push the Bills' defensive linemen off the line of scrimmage.
Miami improved to 25-4 in home openers since 1970, the best mark in the NFL.
Buffalo (0-2), which did not get the ball back for its final possession until 1:53 remained, only reached its own 38 on the final drive. Quarterback Rob Johnson, who was forced to leave last week's game due to a concussion, was only 10-of-18 for 134 yards.
"I felt whoever ran the ball the best in the second half would win the game, and that turned out to be the case," said Phillips. "We're immature offensively, we're just not there yet. We have a young quarterback who is learning on the job."
The teams waged a defensive war for nearly the entire first half and neither team crossed midfield until Buffalo's only scoring drive. The Bills got to the Miami 41 before Johnson found Eric Moulds for a 13-yard gain on 3rd-and-14.
On 4th-and-1, Johnson ran a play-action pass, rolled to his right and fired a strike on the run to Moulds in the end zone.
"Our touchdown was a broken play, we had to improvise," said Johnson. "I was supposed to hit the fullback, but they tackled him. I waived Moulds deep and hit him in the corner of the end zone."
Marino and the Dolphins stormed right back, marching 80 yards in nine plays. Marino had a pair of crucial third-down passes to keep the drive alive, firing a 19-yarder to O.J. McDuffie and an 18-yarder to Lamar Thomas.
"He (Thomas) has been playing very well," said Johnson about Thomas. "Lamar made a couple of critical catches last week and he is doing some good things for us."
After a 22-yard completion to Oronde Gadsden moved the ball to the Buffalo 25, Marino and McDuffie hooked up for an eight-yard gain with 1:06 to play. Marino then found Thomas on a slant-in from right to left, and Thomas outraced defensive back Raymond Jackson to the end zone.
"It's just a clear out to one side and run a crossing route," said Marino about the touchdown play. "It's a very simple pattern, it worked for a touchdown the first time because they were backing off and I didn't think their man coverage was able to weed through all the people coming down the field."
Abdul-Jabbar and Avery combined for 65 yards on an 80-yard drive. Abdul-Jabbar found a seam on the left side and raced 26 yards to the Miami 41, and three plays later, Avery scooted around the left corner for 21 yards to the Buffalo 19. But the drive stalled, leading to Mare's 33-yard field goal.
Rookie defensive back Patrick Surtain intercepted a pass intended for Moulds at the Buffalo 31. Moulds was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty, moving the ball to the 16. Three plays netted six yards before Mare converted from 27 yards.
On the Bills' next possession, Thurman Thomas had 19 yards as Buffalo reached the Miami 41. But he had a nine-yard run negated by a holding penalty on tight end Lonnie Johnson and the drive stalled.
The Dolphins started their next possession on their own 19 and ran off 15 plays before punting. Abdul-Jabbar had seven carries for 21 yards, while Avery netted eight yards on two rushes. The drive could have been even longer, but a holding penalty on tight end Ed Perry negated a two-yard gain by Abdul-Jabbar that would have provided a first down at the Buffalo 34.
"Contrary to one article this week, Karim Abdul-Jabbar can run the ball in the second half," joked Johnson. "We had 12 yards rushing at the half, and when everyone in the stadium knew that we were going to run the ball, we ran the ball in the second half."
Jabbar finished with 75 yards on 18 carries, while Avery added 41 on nine attempts. Johnson was Buffalo's leading rusher with 42 yards, while Thomas and Antowain Smith had 34 yards apiece.
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