4-5 Miami Dolphins at 3-6 Buffalo Bills
Even though the Dolphins have a better record, it feels as if they are in more trouble than the Bills. A couple of weeks ago people (self included) were openly talking about Miami making the playoffs, but after a close loss to the Colts and getting hammered by lowly Tennessee those discussions have evaporated. Buffalo has been losing as well but has at least been competitive and watchable, losing 35-34 to the Titans, 21-9 at Houston, and 37-31 Sunday in Foxboro.
The Bills should base their offense around their running game, which is averaging 143 yards per game. The Miami run defense had been very good all year until allowing Chris Johnson to gain 126 yards last week; it was the first time a running back had gone for more than 100 yards against them in 22 games. C. J. Spiller is a similar type of RB, so the Bills should look to do the same early in the game. Even though Sean Smith has struggled a little bit and Jimmy Wilson has struggled a whole lot for Miami at cornerback, I would still not want to rely on Ryan Fitzpatrick to win the game for me – or more specifically, to not throw an interception or two.
Reggie Bush has fumbled in two of the last three games but nothing boosts a running back’s confidence more than watching the Buffalo Bills on film as your next opponent. Buffalo’s run defense ranks dead last in both yards per game (164) and yards per carry (5.5). As much as Buffalo needs to stick with the running game on offense, that applies even more so to Miami’s offensive game plan – regardless if Ryan Tannehill is handing the ball off to Bush, Daniel Thomas, or the waterboy. After last week’s 0-TD, 3-INT stinker it would be wise to not rely on Tannehill too much, especially on the road.
Special teams is a wash: on one hand Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin leads the NFL with a 19.5 yard punt return average; on the other hand the Bills are dead last in punt coverage, allowing an average of 15 yards per return.
Bottom line: despite the addition of Mario Williams the Bills don’t have a defense strong enough to rattle a young quarterback, thanks in large part because their run defense is so bad. On the other hand is the combination of a young team facing adversity, playing on the road on a very short week, and being a warm weather team playing on a cold northeastern night too much for the Dolphins to overcome?
One other thing to consider: the Dolphins are healthy, with only WR Jabar Gaffney (knee) and a third string TE hurting; the Bills on the other hand are loaded with injuries. Buffalo will be without RB Fred Jackson (concussion), DE Mark Anderson (knee), CB Aaron Williams (knee) and DE Chris Kelsay (neck), and may also be without DT Marcell Dareus (shoulder/hamstring), DT Kyle Williams (ankle), DT Spencer Johnson (ankle), CB McKelvin (groin), C Eric Wood (knee) and G Andy Levitre (knee). On top of that the Bills just played the top team in their division (the Patriots); they’re more likely to be in line for a letdown, while the Dolphins are more likely to come out fired up after an embarrassing loss.
Odds: Bills are favored by 2½, with a point total of 45½
Prediction: I keep flip flopping on this game, but I’ll go with the Miami Dolphins 20, Buffalo Bills 17.
– final score: Bills 19, Dolphins 14
This Day In Patriots History
November 15, 1964:
Boston Patriots 36, Buffalo Bills 28 at War Memorial Stadium
The Patriots overcame a 14-point second half deficit and beat the previously undefeated Bills at the Rockpile, improving their record to 7-2-1. Babe Parilli threw five touchdown passes and Gino Cappelletti scored 24 points as the Pats got the win over the first head coach of their franchise, Lou Saban.
Buffalo opened the scoring with a Jack Kemp 29-yard touchdown pass and a 41-yard field goal by Pete Gogolak for a 10-0 score at the end of the first quarter. Parilli hit Tony Romeo on a 15-yard touchdown with 5:24 left in the half and on then the Pats recovered a Buffalo fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Moments later Parilli found Cappelletti for a 35-yard touchdown and the Pats had the lead, though Gogolak connected on another field goal to make it 14-13 at halftime.
Just before the half ended Buffalo’s star running back Cookie Gilchrist threw a hissy fit over having to block blitzing Patriot players for Kemp, and for not getting enough carries; he told his backup to take over and walked off the field. Saban blew a gasket and Gilchrist was not on the sideline when the second half kicked off.
Kemp moved the Bills on the opening drive, scoring on a 22-yard pass to Bill Groman; Buffalo line up to kick the extra point but backup QB Daryl Lamonica ran the fake in for two points to put the Bills up 21-14. Hagood Clarke, the Buffalo player that had fumbled the earlier kickoff return, got a bit of redemption by knocking the ball out of Carl Garrett‘s hands on the ensuing kickoff; Joe Auer picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown and all of a sudden Buffalo led 28-14.
The Patriots started their comeback late in the third quarter when Larry Eisenhauer recovered a fumble deep in Buffalo territory, and Parilli immediately hit Cappelletti with a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-21.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Pats forced Buffalo to punt from deep in their own territory, and were able to start the next drive from the Bills’ 49 yard line. The Patriots advanced the ball down to the six yard line and then Parilli completed a swing pass to Garron for a touchdown. Since the Patriots were behind Buffalo in the standings (no overtimes and no wild card playoff teams back then) they needed a win; the Pats went for two and Parilli hit Cappelletti for the two-point conversion and a 29-28 lead.
On the next possession the Pats’ defense did one better than force another punt: they got the ball back on a strip sack on Kemp. Parilli went right back to work and connected with Cappelletti for a 34-yard touchdown, and the Patriots won 36-28.
Parilli finished with 242 yards passing and five touchdowns, Garron had 71 yards from scrimmage, and Cappelletti had four receptions for 90 yards and three touchdowns; on defense Nick Buonoconti, Ron Hall and Chuck Shonta each had an interception.
November 15, 1970:
San Diego Chargers 16, Boston Patriots 14 at Harvard Stadium
Two points scored on a safety when Joe Kapp was tackled in the end zone in the 4th quarter proved to be the difference. Jim Nance ran for one touchdown and a late touchdown from Kapp to Bake Turner made the score close, but not enough for a win.
November 15, 1981:
New York Jets 17, New England Patriots 6 at Schaefer Stadium
Tony Collins ran for 66 yards, Andy Johnson had 61 yards receiving, and Don Hasslebeck had 57 yards receiving for the Pats.
November 15, 1987:
Dallas Cowboys 23, New England Patriots 17 in overtime
In a battle of 4-4 teams Herschel Walker broke off a 60-yard touchdown run in OT for a Dallas victory. Steve Grogan scored on a 2-yard run but was knocked out of the game. Replacement QB Tom Ramsey threw a touchdown to Stanley Morgan to give the Pats a 4th quarter lead but the Cowboys tied it on a 20-yard field goal to send it to overtime.
November 15, 1992:
New England Patriots 37, Indianapolis Colts 34 in OT at the Hoosier Dome
QB Scott Zolak drove the Pats to the tying and winning field goals by Charlie Baumann and the Patriots won for the first time all season. The Pats defense had two pick-6’s on Colts QB Jeff George, and a third interception set up the game winning field goal.
Zolak finished 20-29 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, Jon Vaughn ran for 88 yards, and both Irving Fryar and Greg McMurty had 65 yards receiving for the Pats.
Special teams coach Dante Scarnecchia took over the reins as interim head coach due to Dick McPherson having surgery and it worked out well, as the Patriots got the first win of the season after starting out with nine straight losses. The victory was not a complete surprise though, as the Pats had won 13 of their previous 16 games against the Colts. The win helped to somewhat subdue the talks of owner James Busch Orthwein moving the team to St. Louis and in to a domed stadium that was scheduled to be constructed and available for the 1995 season.
November 15, 1998:
Buffalo Bills 13, New England Patriots 10 at Rich Stadium
The Pats defense forced three turnovers to keep the game close but Bruce Smith and the Bills defense didn’t allow the Patriots offense to get much of anything going in this battle of 5-4 teams.
Buffalo’s Doug Flutie kept converting key third downs but he was picked off twice in the end zone, once each by Lawyer Milloy and Willie Clay. A Flutie touchdown pass gave Buffalo a 13-3 third quarter lead but the Pats came back in the 4th quarter with a 37-yard touchdown from Drew Bledsoe to Tony Simmons to close the gap to three points.
After Flutie’s second interception Smith sacked Bledsoe twice, forcing a three and out. With just less than three minutes to play Buffalo had the ball on the Pats 27 on 4th and 4, and Wade Phillips decided to go for it rather than attempt a field goal which would have given the Bills a six point lead. The defense held and the Pats took over on downs for one more chance. The Patriots got a couple of first downs but on a 4th down a Bledsoe pass fell incomplete and the game was over.
Ben Coates led the Pats with four receptions for 70 yards, while Buffalo was led by future Patriot Antowain Smith, who ran for 88 yards.
November 15, 1999:
New York Jets 24, New England Patriots 17
On Monday Night Football three former Patriots led the Jets to an upset victory over their former team. Ray Lucas (who was cut by Pete Carroll) threw two touchdown passes, Curtis Martin ran for 149 yards and a 36-yard touchdown, and Bill Parcells had a big smile when the Jets hung on to win in Foxboro. Lucas and Martin accounted for two touchdowns in a 49-second span late in the first half that gave New York a 21-3 lead.
A field goal after a 19-play, 11-minute drive put the Jets up 24-3 in the 4th quarter, but Drew Bledsoe threw touchdown passes over the next 5:31 to Kevin Faulk (13 yards) and Troy Brown (31 yards) to cut the deficit to 7 points. The Pats got the ball back three times after that but Bledsoe completed only one of 11 passes in those final three drives.
November 15, 2009:
Indianapolis Colts 35, New England Patriots 34 at Lucas Oil Stadium
The Colts remained undefeated in a game that is still brought up on a regular basis today for a coaching decision that many fans and media members continue to second guess.
The Patriots were up 24-7 and seemed to be in control before Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne for a 20-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 24-14 at halftime. The Pats still had a 17-point 4th quarter lead but but the Colts had scored two touchdowns on two quick drives which lasted just 2:04 and 1:49, sandwiched around a Patriots field goal to close the gap to 6 points.
The Pats had the ball on their own 28 and after a third down pass fell incomplete the punting team came on to the field. Bill Belichick called time out and decided to go for it on 4th and two. A short pass to the right side to Kevin Faulk was completed. Faulk appeared to pick up the first down, but he also bobbled the ball a bit, and he was not awarded forward progress, leaving the Patriots a yard short; the Pats were out of timeouts and as a result could not challenge the ruling or the spot of the ball. Four plays later Manning hit Wayne for a one-yard touchdown with only 13 seconds remaining to win the game for Indy.
The loss overshadowed some superb individual performances; Tom Brady threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns, Randy Moss had 9 catches for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Wes Welker had 9 receptions for 94 yards. Laurence Maroney had one touchdown and would have had another if not for what turned out to be a very critical fumble at the goal line in the third quarter.
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November 15, 1932:
Petula Clark was born in Surrey
November 15, 1956:
Love Me Tender premiered at the Paramount Theater in New York City; it was Elvis Presley‘s first movie.
November 15, 2002:
The number one song ten years ago today was You Know You’re Right by Nirvana
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