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Quarterly Report / Mark Gaughan breaks down the game quarter-by-quarter

FIRST QUARTER / Picked apart

The Buffalo Bills' defense ranked last in the NFL in interceptions at the midway point of the season. Buffalo had just one pickoff, by linebacker Andra Davis.

The Bills have picked up their larceny act since then. Entering Sunday's game the Bills had eight interceptions in the previous five games. Safety George Wilson got another one late in the first quarter.

Wilson was covering running back Patrick Cobbs on a short route on the left side of the field, and Miami quarterback Chad Henne threw an ill-advised pass for Cobb. Wilson was all over it, stepping in front of the receiver and returning it 9 yards to the Miami 35.

It was the second interception of the season for Wilson and the eighth of his career. It gave Bills defensive backs eight pickoffs for the season.

Key plays: Dan Carpenter missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt for the Dolphins 3:51 into the game. It was wide right.

No shows: It looked like there were at least 10,000 empty seats on a pleasant South Florida winter day. The temperature at kickoff was 67 degrees.


SECOND QUARTER / Wildcat strike

The Dolphins got their first touchdown of the year out of their wildcat formation late in the second quarter.

Miami running back Ronnie Brown took a direct snap out of the shotgun formation and ran around right end into the end zone. Bills linebacker Arthur Moats was in good position to make a tackle in the backfield but did not take the proper angle on the play.

Miami scored eight touchdowns out of the wildcat formation each of the past two years. Miami ran the formation 91 times for a 6.4-yard average in 2008, and 93 times for a 4.7-yard average in 2009. As defenses have better adjusted to it, Miami has used it less. Through 13 games this year, Miami ran it 52 times for just a 2.9-yard average.

Key plays: Bills receiver David Nelson caught an 18-yard pass over the middle from Ryan Fitzpatrick for a touchdown with 6:34 left in the half. A 34-yard punt return by C.J. Spiller set up a 29-yard Rian Lindell field goal.

Second-guess: The Dolphins got away from the staple of their attack in the first half. They called 20 passes and 12 runs.



The last Bills receiver to catch 10 touchdown passes in a season was Eric Moulds way back in 2002. Until Sunday.

Stevie Johnson's 15-yard TD reception from Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the former seventh-round draft pick 10 scores on the season. Johnson has two more games to reach the team record of 11 set by Bill Brooks in 1994. Only six Bills receivers have reached the 10 TD-catch level. The others were Andre Reed (1991), Bob Chandler (1976) and Elbert Dubenion (1964).

Johnson's TD came with 6:14 left in the quarter and gave the Bills a 17-7 lead.

Key plays: Bills safety Jairus Byrd got the first sack of his career on the first Miami series of the second half. Safety Bryan Scott had a key bat-down of a third-down Chad Henne pass at the line of scrimmage. It forced a field-goal try, which failed.

No fooling: Miami tried a flea-flicker pass from its own 34, but Bills cornerback Drayton Florence did not bite on the play. Brandon Marshall was forced to cut off his route and catch a 14-yard pass.



Dolphins place-kicker Dan Carpenter is one of the good young kickers in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl in just his second season last year after making 25 of 28 kicks. He has been especially good on long-distance kicks. He made 9 of 11 from 40 yards and longer last year.

Entering Sunday's game he was 14 of 20 from 40 or more yards, and two of those kicks were blocked.

Sunday was not one of his better games. Carpenter went 0 for 4, all from long range. He missed from 48 yards in the first quarter, from 61 at the end of the half, from 53 late in the third quarter and from 48 with 1:53 left in the game.

"I just didn't hit the ball well all day, obviously," Carpenter said. "It hurts knowing you cost your team."

Key play: Brandon Marshall caught a 9-yard TD pass from Chad Henne with 7:02 left to pull Miami within 17-14.

Second-guess: Chad Henne was Captain Checkdown at the end of the game. Miami got the ball on its own 20 with 41 seconds left. Henne threw three underneath passes.

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