After an embarrassing 22-0 loss at Cleveland on Nov. 20, Miami first-year coach Nick Saban said his team’s record “doesn’t really matter”—a comment that some took as an admission that he was throwing in the towel on the rest of the season.
Saban called a press conference a few hours later to deny the claim.
The Dolphins didn’t seem to be a team willing to surrender last Sunday, ending a three-game losing streak with a 33-21 win over the Oakland Raiders.
“I certainly don’t want anything that I say to be taken out of context in any way, shape or form,” said Saban, who used the word “very” on Monday at least 15 times to make his point ridiculously clear.
“So, it was a great win. I was very proud of the way the players competed in the game. We played with a tremendous amount of effort and toughness, perseverance.”
Miami, which has already matched its win total from last season, recorded its highest point total since beating Denver 34-10 in the season opener. The Dolphins’ 394 total yards were their third-most this year.
Quarterback Gus Frerotte, who didn’t start against Cleveland because of a sprained right index finger, had his best numbers since the opener, completing 18 of 31 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
Ricky Williams, who returned to the team this season after a well-chronicled one-year retirement, had 82 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 34-yard touchdown.
“We’re building something,” Holliday said. “(Saban) said something last week that kind of got, I think, misconstrued, didn’t come out right. The thing is, we understand. We bought in, we’re buying in and we have to continue to do that.”
The Dolphins, who had lost six of seven before Sunday’s win, are second place in the AFC East, two games behind first-place New England with five to play.
“What we did last week, it’s not a reason to be relieved, to (not do) what we need to do and accomplish next week,” Saban said. “I’ve always talked about dealing with success is just as difficult as dealing with failure in some ways. … We haven’t turned the corner, unless we show an ability to do this on multiple occasions with consistency.”
The Bills lost for the fourth time in five games Sunday, falling 13-9 to the Carolina Panthers. Buffalo managed just 216 yards and settled for three field goals.
The Bills’ offense ranks 30th in the NFL a year after producing 36 offensive touchdowns. Buffalo has managed only 14 TDs this season and is in danger of not reaching 1985’s franchise low of 22.
Buffalo has failed to score at least two touchdowns in each of its last seven games.
“It’s a concern because it’s been consistent throughout the year,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “We’re still a work in progress.”
Buffalo released Drew Bledsoe in February and handed the No. 1 quarterback job to J.P. Losman. But neither Losman nor backup Kelly Holcomb, who has started five games this season, have been able to get the offense going.
The Bills have scored just one touchdown in 12 trips to the red zone in their last four games and rank 29th in the NFL with 11 touchdowns in 32 red-zone possessions this season.
Running back Willis McGahee, who averaged 99 yards in his first eight games this season, has managed just 158 combined in his last three and has gone five games without scoring.
McGahee, who has four touchdowns this season after getting 13 in only 11 starts in 2004-05, managed just 53 yards on 21 carries against Carolina.
Losman threw for a career-high 197 yards in his second straight start and sixth of the season Sunday, but was sacked five times and intercepted once. Mularkey has announced that Losman will remain the starter for the rest of the season.
“We just have not capitalized,” Mularkey said. “I wish I could explain. It’s not that we don’t have guys open or don’t have the ability to run down there.”