Published December 23, 2012
| Sports Network
Miami, FL – The Miami Dolphins kept their slim playoff hopes alive Sunday with a 24-10 win over the Buffalo Bills, but the window was slammed shut only a few minutes later.
Moments after the Dolphins finished off their second straight victory, the Cincinnati Bengals ended Miami's faint postseason chances with a last-second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Dolphins (7-8) needed to finish in a three-way tie with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh at 8-8 to claim the AFC's final wild card spot. A Pittsburgh win would have kept Miami alive heading into next week's regular-season finale at New England.
Instead, Cincinnati wrapped up the last spot and it will be a fourth straight non-playoff season for the Dolphins, who prevailed Sunday thanks to three touchdowns from Reggie Bush.
Bush ran for 65 yards with a touchdown on 19 carries and caught four passes for 42 yards with two scores in the victory. Ryan Tannehill completed 13-of-25 passes for 130 yards and added 44 yards on the ground. Miami finished with 182 yards rushing, led by rookie Lamar Miller's 73 yards on 10 attempts.
"Everyone was focused on getting a win because that's what we could control," Bush said. "We got the job done."
Buffalo turned the ball over four times, the first three leading to 17 points for Miami. The fourth ended Buffalo's final drive in the fourth quarter at the Miami goal line.
The Bills (5-10) have dropped three in a row and will finish with double-digit losses for the fourth straight year.
C.J. Spiller ran for 138 yards for Buffalo and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 240 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Fitzpatrick's 2-yard TD pass to Brad Smith with 8:52 remaining pulled the Bills within two scores and Buffalo followed with a march to the Miami one to make things interesting, but Reshad Jones made a leaping interception with 1:14 remaining to seal the contest.
Jones also recovered a pair of fumbles for a Miami defense that had forced just one turnover in the previous seven games.
After the Dolphins' first possession of the game ended in a blocked field goal by Alex Carrington, Buffalo quickly moved the other way and had a first down at the Miami 30. Stevie Johnson then fumbled after a catch inside the 20.
Jones scooped up the loose ball and his 24-yard return gave the Dolphins possession at their own 38. Tannehill followed by leading the offense 62 yards for a touchdown, finishing the series with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bush. Bush took a short toss and sprinted toward the end zone, reaching the ball to the pylon as he appeared to step out of bounds inside the five. The play was reviewed and upheld.
A career-long 62-yard run by Spiller in the second quarter set up a 42-yard Rian Lindell field goal to get Buffalo on the board. The Bills nearly had a touchdown on the play after Spiller's big run, but Johnson was unable to hold on to a pass in the end zone.
The Dolphins crossed midfield on each of their next two possessions before punting, then drove 65 yards on five plays for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Tannehill keyed the set with a 30-yard pass to Rishard Matthews, then raced 31 yards down the right sideline on the next play to set up Bush's 1-yard TD run for a 14-3 advantage.
"We just gave up too much, too early," Bills head coach Chan Gailey said. "We fought, but we didn't execute well enough early in the game. We had too much to overcome in the end."
Buffalo's initial possession of the third quarter ended in similar fashion to its first series of the game, as tight end Dorin Dickerson fumbled in Miami territory after a catch.
The Dolphins recovered at their own 36 and went 64 yards the other way for a touchdown. Miller broke off a 28-yard run on the first play and Bush capped the 10-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown reception, getting both feet down on a perfect fade pass from Tannehill.
Cameron Wake then stripped Fitzpatrick a few moments later and Jones recovered the fumble, setting up Nate Kaeding's 45-yard field goal for a 24-3 edge with 4:17 left in the third. Kaeding signed earlier this week after Dan Carpenter was placed on injured reserve.
The Dolphins finished 5-3 at home, while Buffalo was 2-6 on the road ... Miami converted 7-of-14 third downs ... The Bills had 11 penalties for 93 yards and the Dolphins were penalized three times for only 25 yards ... Spiller, who notched his fifth 100-yard game of the season, became the first Bill to record 100 yards from scrimmage in 10 games since Thurman Thomas in 1992. Spiller also became the first Bill since Travis Henry in 2003 to surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in a season ... Carrington has three blocked field goals this season, the most for a Bill since Bruce Smith blocked three in 1996 ... Bills tight end Scott Chandler suffered a knee injury after a 25-yard catch on the team's first series and did not return. His backup, Dickerson, was carted off in the fourth quarter with a right leg injury ... Miami gained a split of the season series and has won seven of the last 10 meetings. The Bills, who earned a 19-14 win in Buffalo last month, last swept the series in 2007.