As Kyle Williams and Buffalo's defense obliterated a franchise record Sunday, they left Miami's offense in pieces after seven hard sacks.
Captain Kyle Williams and cornerback Nickell Robey led the team in reaching the 56 sack mark with two each, breaking the 1964 record of 50 sacks in a season. Jerry Hughes, Mario Williams and Da'Norris Searcy each chipped in an additional sack.
"Defensively, I think they were outstanding," head coach Doug Marrone said. "Two of 14 on third downs, held them to a total of 103 yards. Those guys really came and they really played. It was an honor to be on that sideline and watch those guys perform."
Although the shutout victory for the now 6-9 Bills can't repair the team's broken playoff chances, the win over Miami crippled a team which was in the hunt. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said the goal wasn't knocking Miami out of the playoffs, but to show Buffalo has the desire to compete.
"We've built a foundation from the beginning, but we wanted to finish it," Pettine said. "We wanted to have momentum going into next year. I think the guys really took that to heart, and said, 'Hey, listen, if this is our playoff game.' And again, you just looked at the view from the sideline, our guys just looked a step quicker than they did."
"It's just mentality," Mario Williams said. "I think across the board we're just buying into it."
Kyle Williams said Pettine's scheme allowed a determined group of players hungry for a win to finish with a score of 19-0.
"I felt like we were controlled from the start," Williams said. "Any time you can go out and get a three and out to start off the game, it's really a big boost."
The defense secured two consecutive three and outs by sacking Ryan Tannehill on a pair of third downs through the first two possessions, but throughout the game, that happened three more times. The Dolphins felt the pressure, as Tannehill left the game twice, forcing Matt Moore into action. Moore turned the ball over on two interceptions.
Kyle Williams said the team has lofty goals for how many times they put the quarterback on the ground.
"We plan for 40. We can't quite get them," Williams told BuffaloBills.com. "We have a good combination of players and scheme. We've got players that can win and put pressure on guys in one on one situations, and then we've got blitz packages that can cater to take advantage of what an offense doesn't do well."
Stingy run defense made defending easier by creating Miami's urgency to pass. With just 14 rushing yards on the day, Williams said the Dolphins had few choices.
"I think that any time we can make a team one dimensional, especially get them away from the run, if we can win on first down, we've got the players and the tools to put a lot of heat on an offense," Williams said. "So it worked out that way (Sunday)."
"We really thought they were going to come in here and run the ball, given the elements and everything like that. We really thought they'd try to test our run game early," Hughes said. "They kind of did, but we kind of shut it down."
Players agreed excellent coaching produced the opportunity to win in such a defensive fashion. Kyle Williams said Pettine's defensive scheme reformed the way some players view defense this year.
"It's aggressive, and we've got a lot of guys who love playing in it," Williams said. "And it's really just cut a lot of us loose, and you can tell from guys that are having big years."
Among those players are Williams and Hughes, who each reached 10 sacks this season to join team sack leader Mario Williams as the first trio of Bills to have 10 or more sacks in a season since 1995.
The achievements don't make up for the ninth consecutive losing season in Buffalo, but do provide hope for the road ahead.
"It's a nice consolation, I guess, to where we are," Kyle Williams said. "But I think you see potentially, what we can do. We have a good scheme for things and we have some really good players."
Marrone said looking back as if the achievements and records are wasted is a mistake.
"I don't look at it that way, but I do look at it a little bit of—my son asked me the same thing, the same exact question you asked me. 'Do you look back and say should've, could've, would've?' I told him in life you can't do that. Not in the present time and not with what we're doing," Marrone said. "You always have to move forward and just keep working and building it."