Watkins sparks Bills to 33-17 win over Dolphins
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Bills receiver Sammy Watkins had nothing to apologize for Sunday.
Shrugging off a sprained left ankle and critics accusing him of an unwillingness to play through injuries, the second-year star responded with eight catches for a career best 168 yards and a momentum-turning touchdown in a 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins.
''I just put it behind me,'' Watkins said, referring to a stir he caused 12 days ago by calling his critics ''losers'' on his Instagram account. ''I felt like I owed it to the fans, to the team, and to the organization.''
The fans responded by chanting ''SAM-MY!'' as Watkins and the Bills exited the field after Buffalo (4-4) snapped a two-game skid, and its sputtering offense rediscovered its big-play identity in both its running and passing attack.
Rookie running back Karlos Williams had 110 yards rushing and scored twice, while LeSean McCoy had 112 yards rushing and scored on a 48-yard run.
Now that's more like it, said McCoy, referring to an offense that combined for 420 yards, including 266 rushing.
''The offensive line really kicked butt today,'' McCoy said. ''I shouldn't use the word bully, but they really bullied up front. Anything we wanted to do today, it was free.''
The offense also found its rhythm with quarterback Tyrod Taylor back as starter after missing two games with a sprained left knee. Taylor finished 11 of 12 for 181 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills beat Miami for the fourth straight time at Orchard Park and routed their AFC East rivals for a second time in six weeks, following a 41-14 win at Miami.
The Dolphins (3-5) are once again showing signs of regression. Coming off a 36-7 loss to New England, Miami has lost two straight since winning its first two games with interim coach Dan Campbell, who took over after Joe Philbin was fired.
Miami also dropped to 0-4 against division rivals.
''It's a big gut-check,'' Dolphins safety Reshad Jones said. ''You come in and you prepare all week, you put everything into it, and you come out and this is the outcome that you get. So it's tough.''
Lamar Miller scored twice on 1-yard runs and finished with 44 yards.
The Ryan Tannehill-led passing attack was sloppy and lacked finish. The troubles began on Miami's first play from scrimmage when Tannehill - lined up in the shotgun at his goal line - had Mike Pouncey's snap go through his hands and through the end zone for a safety.
Tannehill finished 27 of 36 for 309 yards with two lost fumbles.
Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes had an even tougher outing: He was burned deep twice by Watkins.
''I messed up,'' Grimes said. ''They can make big plays, so I take the blame for it. I didn't bring my `A' game today. And hats off to the Bills. Sammy Watkins had a great game.''
Grimes lost his footing while covering Watkins, who made a juggling 63-yard catch up the left sideline in the second quarter. That set up Williams' 11-yard run that put the Bills ahead 19-7.
Then, after the Dolphins closed to 19-14, Watkins had Grimes beaten by a step and didn't break stride in catching Taylor's perfectly placed pass in the right corner of the end zone. The play came on third-and-14, and three plays after the Bills' defense forced a turnover. Linebacker Jerry Hughes stripped the ball loose from Tannehill and recovered the fumble.
The Bills' defense came up big at the end of the first half. The Dolphins ran a play from Buffalo's 1 with 2 seconds left rather than kick a field goal. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore knocked down Tannehill's pass intended for Charlie Sims a few steps into the end zone.
''That was a huge goal-line stand,'' Bills coach Rex Ryan said. ''To come away with no points, that was a big play. Our D never looked great, but we had our moments.''
NOTES: Watkins' 168 yards were the most by a Bills player since Terrell Owens had 197 on Nov. 22, 2009. ... Williams, who returned after missing three games with a concussion, became just the NFL's seventh player to score a touchdown in each of his first five games. The record is by New England's Robert Edwards, who scored in his first six games in 1998. ... Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry had 11 catches for 69 yards, four runs for 18, and completed a 9-yard pass to Tannehill.
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