Trying too hard? 4 turnovers costly as Bills lose to Dolphins 24-10

Published December 23, 2012

| Associated Press

With his team out of the playoff race and his coach's job in jeopardy, Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson said he tried too hard.

Johnson lost a fumble to end a scoring threat and dropped a pass in the end zone Sunday for the sputtering Bills, who lost to the Miami Dolphins 24-10.

Buffalo (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season, leaving coach Chan Gailey's future uncertain.

"I was probably trying to do a little too much, running too fast ... playing for certain people," Johnson said. "I felt like I was going, going, going and trying to do the most right now, and it didn't come out right for me."

Or for the Bills. Doomed by four turnovers, they missed a chance at a sweep of the season series with Miami.

"We came into this game playing for pride," said C.J. Spiller, who rushed for 138 yards. "We were just trying to get the respect that we know we don't have right now."

Gailey's team reached a double-digit loss total for the third year in a row, but he said he's not worried about his job security.

"No, I worry about getting better ... playing to our abilities, which we haven't done," he said. "And that's my responsibility to get that done."

Reggie Bush scored three touchdowns for the Dolphins, who walked off the field victorious and still in playoff contention. By the time they reached the locker room, they had been eliminated because of Cincinnati's 13-10 win at Pittsburgh.

Miami (7-8) began the weekend with only a slim chance at the playoffs and will sit them out for the 10th time in 11 years.

"The NFL has a system in place — six teams earn a spot in the playoffs," first-year coach Joe Philbin said. "It is what it is."

Philbin didn't make the playoff race a point of emphasis in December, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill said he was unaware the Dolphins had been eliminated until he emerged from the locker room.

"We just have to move forward and learn from past experiences," Tannehill said.

While Bush led an efficient offense, safety Reshad Jones recovered two fumbles and made an interception at the Miami 1 with 71 seconds left to seal the victory. The Dolphins stymied the Bills playing with a patchwork secondary that included starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson, acquired Tuesday after being waived by Cleveland.

The Dolphins took advantage of Buffalo's woeful run defense by netting 182 yards on the ground while averaging 5.2 per carry. Backup Lamar Miller had 73 and Tannehill added 44, including 31 on a dash that set up a touchdown.

Nate Kaeding, signed during the week by Miami, made a 45-yard field goal but had a 46-yard try blocked by Alex Carrington.

The Dolphins had three fumble recoveries, doubling their season total, but their most spectacular takeaway was Jones' interception. With the Bills at the Miami 1 and 80 seconds left, Jones leaped at the line of scrimmage to snare Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass and clinch the win.

"He just made a heck of a play," Fitzpatrick said.

Along with the turnovers and missed chances, penalties hurt the Bills.

"Especially the first half there, I think that's as poor as we've played offensively since I've been here," Fitzpatrick said.

Buffalo settled for a field goal after Johnson's dropped pass in the end zone in the second quarter. The ruling appeared questionable, but the Bills didn't challenge the call.

"If the ball rolls out without (the receiver) coming up with it and giving it to the official, they're not going to ever give it to you," Gailey said. "So you're wasting a challenge there."

NOTES: For the Bills, TE Scott Chandler left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury. FB Dorin Dickerson was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. ... SS Da'Norris Searcy hurt his groin in the second quarter. CB Stephon Gilmore left with a head injury in the third quarter. ... Miami CB Sean Smith hurt his left knee in the second half. ... Carrington's four blocked kicks on the season (3 FGs, 1 PAT) are the most ever by a Bills player since the statistic was first tracked in 1988.

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