Defense drives Bills to first division win

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
6:35
PM ET
MIAMI -- Through three quarters of the Buffalo Bills' 23-21 win over the Miami Dolphins, something wasn't adding up.

The Dolphins had struggled to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill all season, while the strength of the Bills' defense had been putting pressure on opposing passers. Yet entering the fourth quarter Sunday, the Bills were still without a sack.

That all changed with a thump and a thud when defensive end Mario Williams slammed Tannehill to the turf to stall a Dolphins drive in Bills territory.

A sleeping giant having been awakened, Williams took Tannehill down again three plays later, forcing a fumble that was recovered by teammate Kyle Williams to set-up a go-ahead field goal.

[+] EnlargeNickell Robey
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyRookie Nickell Robey made his first interception count, returning it for a touchdown.
"They were big plays in the game," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin simply said. "Big plays."

It was just what the doctor ordered for the Bills' defense, which had allowed some big plays to the Bengals in an overtime loss last week.

Williams' strip-sack and a pick-six by Nickell Robey in the first quarter bookended what was an otherwise uninspiring performance by both teams.

It was a breakthrough moment for Robey, who jumped in front of a Tannehill pass on the third play of the game and trotted 19 yards for the touchdown. The undrafted rookie, off to a strong start, had come close to making his first career interception in previous games but wasn't able to reel one in until Sunday.

"He's been really close," head coach Doug Marrone said. "I'm out there while you guys are saying '[Wow], great play' and I'm saying, 'Shoot. It's about time.'"

Robey said he was anticipating the throw on a "pivot" route by Dolphins receiver Brandon Gibson.

"It was on film plenty of times," Robey said. "I've seen it, I believed it, and I jumped it."

The USC product is the youngest and smallest player on the Bills' roster, but despite his lack of size and experience he has carved a role as the nickel cornerback.

"You need to have great technique and leverage against taller receivers. That's what I'm always faced with. I'm 5-foot-7," he said. "You just need to know how to play these guys. You can't use your hands a lot like in college. You have to use your feet, and I think that fits perfectly into my game. I'm quick, I'm fast, and I can move. I try to use that as an advantage in my game."

Meanwhile, Williams' two sacks give him 10 for the season, surpassing Bruce Smith (who had nine in 1997) as the most for a Bills player in the first seven games of the season.

"My opportunity presented itself," he said. "Being able to have everybody beside me, and play off each other, it came through."

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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