ORCHARD PARK -- Powered by a defense that finally lived up to the hype and four Rian Lindell field goals, the Buffalo Bills edged the Miami Dolphins, 19-14, Thursday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Safety Jairus Byrd and linebacker Bryan Scott helped preserve the Bills' first AFC East victory in nine games with interceptions of Ryan Tannehill passes on Miami's two possessions with under two minutes remaining.
The victory snapped the Bills' three-game losing streak, improved their record to 4-6 and kept alive their slim playoff hopes. The Dolphins lost their third in a row and dropped to 4-6. It was Buffalo's first win in prime time in 11 years and first AFC East victory in 13 months.
The Bills, led by their $100-million defensive end Mario Williams, limited Miami to 147 yards, including just 60 on the ground. Six of Miami's possessions ended in punts, two in turnovers and another in a missed 50-yard field goal. The Dolphins only scores came on a 96-yard kickoff return by Marcus Thigpen late in the first quarter and a two-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Davone Bess midway through the fourth quarter.
Reggie Bush was held to 20 yards on 10 carries. Tannehill was 14 of 28 for 141 yards and one score.
Williams had a sack and also dropped Bush for a 5-yard loss on a running play. The Bills defense had been upgraded in the off-season with the free-agent signings of Williams and defensive end Mark Anderson. But the unit had been a sieve for much of the season, particularly against divisional opponents, who had averaged nearly 46 points per game against Buffalo in three contests before Thursday night. But the Bills asserted themselves from the start, limiting Miami to 50 first-half yards.
C.J. Spiller, starting in place of injured running back Fred Jackson, rushed for 92 yards on 22 carries and had an additional 39 yards on three catches. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 17 of 27 passes for 168 yard.
Leodis McKelvin put the Bills up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game when he returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. It was his second return for a touchdown this season, and the first punt return for a score by a Bill against Miami since Butch Byrd went 72 yards against them on Sept. 18, 1966.
Buffalo went up 10-0 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter on a 32-yard Lindell field goal. The scoring drive was set up by Byrd's fumble recovery at the Bills' 48-yard line after cornerback Stephon Gilmore stripped wide receiver Brian Hartline.
The Dolphins cut the deficit to three on the ensuing kickoff when Marcus Thigpen went 96 yards with the return. Thigpen returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in the season opener.
The Bills increased their lead to 19-7 when Lindell connected from 34, 42 and 19 yards on Buffalo's next three possessions.
NOTES: Dolphins third-year cornerback Nolan Carroll was flagged for two pass-interference penalty and one holding infraction in the first half, accounting for 51 penalty yards. ... The Bills' last prime-time win was a 13-10 victory vs. Jacksonville on Oct. 18, 2001.