When the Miami Dolphins humbled the Buffalo Bills, 30-7, on Sept. 16 they boasted about it afterword.
A "payback" they called it, as if one game could avenge six straight losses to the Bills, six games in which Buffalo AVERAGED 402.6 yards total offense, outrushed Miami by an astounding 1,103-374 count and outscored the Fish, 159-84.
Most outspoken of the Dolphins was third-down back Jim Jensen.
"The Bills said they owned us last year, and we didn't forget that," Jensen said. "Today we owned the Bills. We went out and just kicked their butts.
"When we went to the no-huddle offense, their defensive linemen could barely get in their stance, they were so fatigued."
"It was very simple defense," said Miami's Pro Bowl linebacker John Offerdahl. "That's what was so exciting. We actually beat them man to man."
Another Miami linebacker David Griggs, chimed in with this observation:
"When we came off the field after that first series (they stopped Bills fullback Larry Kinnebrew on a fourth-and-1 play at the Miami 29), we felt we could beat their line. We said, 'let's cut out the stunts and stuff and play our base defense.'
"Maybe Buffalo thought they could come in here and we'd roll over like the Dolphins did last year. Well, I wasn't here last year. That game didn't mean anything to me."
Even the South Florida media got in on the fun at the expense of the Bills.
This was the offering of sports columnist Dave Hyde of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:
"OK, now for a word about Buffalo. The word: overrated. The only thing that looked worse than its defense was its offense. It was not a team that demanded to win, but rather gave the thought a sniff and decided it would be too much work."
If the September game was Payback I, remarks like that have the Bills dreaming of Payback II when Buffalo and Miami meet Sunday at Rich Stadium.
"They've been doing a lot of talking so far as saying they've embarrassed us," said Bills Pro Bowl defensive end Bruce Smith. "Yeah, they did. We came back and licked our wound and from that we had to rebound and regroup and get back on the road, which we did. This is one game that's sticking in the back of our minds since that particular loss to the Miami Dolphins."
The Miami media have been making much of the fact that rookie offensive tackle Richmond Webb of the Dolphins kept Smith from getting a sack in the September game. Smith disagrees, saying Miami quarterback Dan Marino's quick release is mainly responsible for avoiding sacks.
"If you guys can see on film what we see, you would understand that Dan Marino is the reason for a lot of that," Smith said. "I give Richmond Webb a lot of credit. He's a good athlete, a very big, strong tackle, but, at the same time, I don't think he had a Pro Bowl game against me.
"I can see a number of times where I forced a lot of plays to go other ways and at the same time I got back there and got to Dan Marino, but he just threw the ball away. I mean those are things that you guys (the media) just
look at and say, 'hey, well he threw the ball away,' but it was a good pass rush.
"I think the difference in that ballgame, there were a number of key turnovers in which they took advantage of and, at the same time, we were down in the heat and they exploited some of the things that we were doing and they did a good job at it.
"I mean, I can't take anything away from them. I just think that this Sunday, it's going to be a different ballgame."
While the Bills may still be seething at the loss to Miami, they also are thankful it happened.
"I think we needed a lashing like that," Smith said. "Every now and then it helps. I think it really turned everything around for us. It put us back into the proper perspective.
"Maybe we were reading some of the things, good things, that people were saying about us. Super Bowl-bound and things of that nature, so I think it was good for us that we got beat like that."
"We took that loss as a guiding point of what we to do," said running back Thurman Thomas. "There is no sense of the Buffalo Bills going 9-7 or 8-8 or 10-6 with all the talent that we have. So we felt like we needed to just turn it up a little notch, and we have. We've won a lot of ballgames ever since we lost that one to Miami so it's not a secret anymore this is payback time.
"We're a different ballclub since then. . . . We're just a focused ballclub right now.
"That was 10 weeks ago. We don't care what happened then," Thomas said. "We care about what's going to happen Sunday."