“Now we can get off that low horse we were on,” said McGahee. “It was a long time coming.”
It was long time for McGahee, the 2003 first-round draft pick who had 26 carries for 111 yards rushing in his first career start, filling in for injured Travis Henry.
It was the former University of Miami star’s first significant contribution since reconstructive surgery on his left knee forced him to miss his entire rookie season.
And it was a long time coming for the Bills (1-4), who ended a seven-game losing streak dating back to last year.
Spikes, who ran back an interception 11 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring, was happy because he saw this victory coming.
“It was a promise,” Spikes said, referring to a vow he made Wednesday that the Bills would provide their fans something to cheer about. “I knew what we had. … You couldn’t have drawn this up any better.”
The win provided rookie coach Mike Mularkey his first career victory, and came at the expense of a banged-up Dolphins team that has lost six straight and is off to its worst start in franchise history.
The mood was dour in the Miami locker room.
“The frustrating part is that we’re the worst team in the NFL. We are the jokes on Jay Leno,” linebacker Zach Thomas said. “It’s a humbling game.”
Miami’s offense can take the blame, still in disarray after Ricky Williams’ abrupt departure on the eve of training camp. The Dolphins have yet to score more than 13 points in a game. And they’ve generated as many offensive touchdowns, four, as defenses have scored against them.
Spikes’ interception, stepping in front of a screen pass intended for Rob Konrad, was the fourth time an opponent turned a Dolphins turnover into a touchdown this season.
It didn’t even matter that Sammy Morris had a career day with 91 yards rushing, the best performance by a Dolphins running back this season.
“To me it’s almost pointless,” said former Bills player Morris, the fourth player to start at running back for Miami this season. “The only stat I’m concerned about is the win-loss column. We don’t have any in the win column and it’s pretty frustrating.”
The Dolphins were held to 212 yards of offense, a mere 36 in the second half.
With the game tied at 10, the Bills went ahead for good on Mark Campbell’s 5-yard reception midway through the third quarter.
The Dolphins appeared ready to answer on the ensuing possession, when they had first-and-goal at the Bills 1. Miami instead went backward. The drive ended when Fiedler was sacked for a second straight time, forcing Miami to settle for Matt Bryant’s 28-yard field goal.
The Dolphins got the ball back once more, and the Bills closed out the game with an 11-play, 93-yard drive that ran out the final 6:22.
This was the type of effort—stout defense combined with an efficient offense—the Bills had been lacking in their previous outings: three losses determined by three points or less, and three times squandering fourth-quarter leads.
Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe finished 15-of-28 for 212 yards passing, and was sacked only once.
“Winning is your best incentive, and the feeling in that locker room is big,” coach Mularkey said. “We have to continue on. We have to claw our way out of a hole we’ve created. And this is a good way to start.”
The win pleased Bills owner Ralph Wilson, coming on his 86th birthday and a week after he criticized the team’s ball control offense as boring. “Am I happy with smashmouth football? Today, yes,” Wilson said. … A 30 mph wind out of the west was a major factor. All the scoring through three quarters took place at the east end of the field, and the wind knocked down Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell’s 43-yard field goal attempt, which barely even made it to the goal line. Lindell hit a 43-yarder with the wind, and a 20-yarder into it. … O.J. Simpson was spotted watching the game inside a private suite.