The Miami Dolphins were playing primarily for pride by the fourth quarter, which is what their bizarre season is all about now. So the defense dug in, mounting a goal-line stand that preserved a 29-point lead against the reeling Buffalo Bills.
The defense also set up two touchdowns with interceptions, Matt Moore threw for three scores, and the Dolphins' improbable midseason surge gained momentum Sunday when they drubbed Buffalo 35-8.
After losing their first seven games, the Dolphins (3-7) have three consecutive victories for the first time since 2008, winning by a combined score of 86-20. Buffalo (5-5) has been outscored 106-26 while losing three in a row.
To make matters worse for the injury-riddled Bills, they lost NFL rushing leader Fred Jackson in the third quarter when he hurt his leg. Receiver Donald Jones (left ankle) and cornerback Terrence McGee (left leg) were carted off the field in the second period.
For the third game in a row, the Dolphins held the opposition without a touchdown. Miami protected the streak midway through the second half by stopping the Bills four times after they had a first down at the 2.
The Dolphins, who came into the game tied for last in the league with four interceptions, twice picked off passes that deflected off receivers. Both turnovers led to touchdowns.
The Dolphins scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and led 21-3 after 18 minutes. Moore threw little after that and finished 14 for 20 for 160 yards, with a passer rating of 133.3.
Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has yet to win a game since signing a $59 million, six-year contract last month, was sacked twice and had a rating of 45.8. He has 12 turnovers in the past six games.
Jackson was held to 17 yards on seven carries. The Bills were 0 for 14 on third- and fourth-down conversions, and by the third quarter their ineptitude had become farcical. On one play, the wet ball slipped out of
Fitzpatrick's hand as he prepared to pass, so he caught it and tried again, throwing a short completion.
The past three weeks the Bills have totaled two touchdowns, and one came during garbage time.
Buffalo took the opening kickoff and drove for a field goal, then went 25 minutes without a first down. Bad field position hurt the Bills, who started eight possessions inside their 20.
Miami mounted an 87-yard march on its first possession, capped by Moore's 1-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
The Dolphins forced a punt, then struck again. Moore's 46-yard pass to Charles Clay set up a 5-yard scoring run by Reggie Bush.
When Nolan Carroll intercepted a pass that slipped through the hands of Buffalo's Brad Smith, Miami was in business again at the Bills 23. Moore then threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Clay for the rookie's first career TD.
Late in the first half, Miami's Yeremiah Bell intercepted a pass that deflected off David Nelson and returned it to the Buffalo 4. Moore then hit Davone Bess with a 4-yard scoring pass for a 28-3 lead.
The Bills' Dave Rayner kicked a career-long 56-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.