They were embarrassed in Miami less than a month ago. They admitted they were beaten physically in all three phases. The fact that the Dolphins chose to insult the Bills publicly after their humbling 35-8 defeat has Buffalo's players seeing red.
Watching the game tape of that first meeting with Miami only made those in Buffalo's locker room all the more aggravated. Extra hits after the whistle, a smack to the back of a head at the end of a play, and head hunting in the secondary all contributed to pointed comments by the Bills this week concerning their rematch on Sunday.
"Some of it is being aggressive and that's football, but some of it is after the whistle," said Chris Kelsay a veteran of more than a dozen Buffalo-Miami games. "You turn on the film and you can see guys taking cheap shots and it sticks in your craw. You don't like to see that. And if you watch that and don't have a problem with it and think that's fine with guys getting hit in the back of the head then you shouldn't be on this team."
"Just watching the tape there's a lot of extracurricular activity going on after the whistle," said George Wilson. "So we're very mindful of what they were trying to do. They've got to come into a different environment. It's not going to be sunny and tropical coming in on Sunday so we'll see how they handle those conditions as well as having to see us again."
Scott Chandler, Stevie Johnson and David Nelson were all victims of head hunting while trying to make plays in the passing game. Chandler and Johnson had their helmets knocked clean off their heads in the game. The hit by Tyrone Culver on Johnson in the fourth quarter drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless player.
"You know, it started a little fire in me," said Johnson. "Hopefully it did with the people around me. So I'm looking forward to playing this game and coming out with an attitude. It's not like we don't come out with an attitude, but a little bit more just for what was said."
After Miami's convincing victory over Buffalo in Week 11 Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell told the Palm Beach Post that the Bills gave up.
"In the first half, when we jumped on them, the way the game was going and the way they were playing, they laid down," Bell told the Palm Beach Post. "We were putting a hat to them and flying all over the place. We did that and I felt they laid down."
That comment perhaps more than any of the trash talking during the game or physical activity that took place after the whistle in Miami is what has the Bills eager for redemption Sunday.
"We're not playing for the playoffs or anything but we've got to show heart," Johnson said. "You can't let anybody come into your place and talk crap about you. We've just got to come out and make plays on those guys."
"They beat us in all three phases so I think they certainly embarrassed us when we played there," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "It's hard to be on the field and be embarrassed by the other team. We'll think about that and take that into account. We're not going to forget about that last meeting and want to have a better memory after this game."
Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles, who was coaching the Miami secondary in the first meeting, tried to downplay some of the comments and extracurricular activity that occurred after the whistle.
"I don't think that was anything personal or anything like that," said Bowles. "Players have more banter these days than anything else. We got a few breaks early and we got up a little bit, and I guess we hadn't won too many games at that point, and a couple of guys said some things. I don't think that's a big deal one way or the other as far as we're concerned, or as far as they're concerned."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey, who detests dirty play, understands why his players are perturbed by what took place in the first meeting with the Dolphins. He's been advocating hard, clean play between the whistles and nothing more.
"This game is an emotional game and if it's not you're in the wrong business," he said. "It's got to be an emotional game but you've got to play smart. You can't retaliate. Retaliation gets you in trouble and gets the team in trouble. You have to be smart about making sure that you are striking your blows and making your hits from snap to whistle and not afterwards. You can't control what other people do but you can always control what you do yourself."
And the approach by the Bills on Sunday will be one in which their actions speak louder than their words.
"At the end of the day talk is cheap," said Kelsay. "I think the guys are going to prepare hard this week and go out there on Sunday and try to redeem ourselves from that first game. Ultimately we can talk all we want about it throughout the week, but we know Sunday when you strap on the head gear you better tighten the chin strap a little tighter and make sure your mouthpiece is in because we have nothing to lose."