The Miami Dolphins knew what was coming, but were helpless to stop it Sunday against the Buffalo Bills’ rushing attack.
The Bills piled up 51 rushing attempts and 203 yards on the ground in a 19-0 victory over their AFC East rivals at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” Bills running back C.J. Spiller said, “when you know that you can pretty much do what you want to do. Especially that second half – we really got rolling. There was nothing that they could do to stop us.”
The Bills ran for 141 yards after halftime against Miami on Sunday, a big reason why they’ve now won two straight games for the first time since Weeks Two and Three of 2012.
The Bills’ rushing attack has risen all the way up to No. 2 in the NFL this season with 2,138 yards, behind only the Philadelphia Eagles (2,429 yards). If Buffalo reaches its season average of 143 yards per game in the season finale against the New England Patriots on Sunday, it would finish with 2,281 yards – a total that would be eighth most in single-season franchise history.
Because they were so dominant on the ground, the Bills needed only 25 passing attempts from backup quarterback Thad Lewis on Sunday.
“We always want to establish the run. It’s our game plan all year long,” right guard Kraig Urbik said. “When we were doing as well as we were Sunday, we just kept at it. It wasn’t anything particular like we wanted to stay away from the pass game or anything, it’s just that we were being successful, so we wanted to stick with it.”
A prime example of that came on the Bills’ 19-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter early in the fourth quarter.
The Bills ran 14 times on the drive, and according to Urbik, “I think we ran the same play like 10 times.”
“We kind of sensed that those guys were getting tired,” Spiller said. “Pretty much, we just kept running almost the same play over and over. They just couldn’t figure out what was going on. Any time you’ve got that, you’ve kind of got them on the ropes and you’re giving your defense a chance to rest.”
The Bills dominated time of possession against the Dolphins, holding the ball for more than 36 minutes. The 19-play drive took 9:16 off the clock, with the offense directed by Lewis going no-huddle on 11 plays.
“Thad did a good job of having that up-tempo going. They was trying to get a sub in, but we wouldn’t let them,” Spiller said.
Entering Monday night, the Bills have a league-leading 511 rushing attempts – 38 more than any other team in the league. If the Bills reach their season average of 34 carries against New England, they’ll finish with 545 rushing attempts, which would tie for the ninth-most in single-season franchise history and be the most since they had 563 in 1996.
“We know we have good quarterbacks that can get it done, but we want to rely on the run,” Urbik said.
Despite playing with broken ribs, Jackson put up his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with 111.
Jackson has 836 yards on the season, while Spiller gained 77 against the Dolphins to push his total to 822 on the year. That marks only the second time in franchise history the Bills have had two players rush for at least 800 yards in a single season (O.J. Simpson had 1,817 and Jim Braxton 823 in 1975). It’s also the first time since 2011 in the NFL that two running backs on the same team have had that many yards in the same season.
“We’ve got some foundation plays that we’re really confident in,” center Eric Wood said. “That’s big for an offense. When you can get rolling like that, especially in the conditions like Sunday with the wind and the rain, that can be huge.”
The running game has been particularly strong the last two weeks, with a combined 401 yards against Jacksonville and Miami. But there is still room for improvement. While the Bills’ total rushing yardage is second in the NFL, their average rush of 4.2 yards ranks smack in the middle of the league at 16th.
“A couple games we had to throw the ball pretty significantly in the second half to try to get back in games,” Wood said. “For the most part we’ve been pretty pleased with it. Obviously there are places where we could get better and we need to get better moving forward, but a game like Sunday is a lot of fun.”