ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — It might be time to consider calling off the search party for Mario Williams and the Buffalo Bills' long-lost defense.
For one week at least, the high-priced, much-maligned unit wasn't missing in action.
Williams — Buffalo's $100 million defensive end — had one of the team's three sacks, and safety Jairus Byrd recovered a fumble and had an interception in a much-needed, long-awaited stifling performance that produced a 19-14 win over the Miami on Thursday night.
"That's how it's supposed to be," Williams said. "It was definitely a must win. With the way things turned out earlier in the season, we had to come out and play like it's the playoffs."
A defense that entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL in yards allowed and dead last in giving up an average 31.67 points, limited the Dolphins to 184 yards and 16 first downs. Buffalo held Reggie Bush to a mere 20 yards — or 183 fewer than the Dolphins running back in his previous trip to Orchard Park last December.
Just as important, the defense closed it out by forcing turnovers on Miami's final two drives.
Byrd intercepted rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's pass with a diving catch at Buffalo's 35 with 1:54 left. And Bryan Scott followed a little over a minute later, jumping in front of Tannehill's pass intended for Davone Bess at midfield.
"Seeing the predicament we're in, it was a must win," Byrd said. "We dug this hole for ourselves."
And here was the first step in attempting to dig out of it.
The Bills (4-6) snapped a three-game skid and won for only the second time in seven games to stay on the fringe of the AFC playoff hunt. Buffalo also ended several other inglorious skids, by beating a division rival for the first time in nine meetings, and snapping an 11-game prime-time drought that dated to 2001.
Leodis McKelvin opened the scoring 90 seconds in by returning a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in a game the Bills never trailed.
That made up for an offense that lacked finish. Rian Lindell hit four field goals, including a 42-yarder, as Buffalo failed to score an offensive touchdown despite four trips inside the Miami 20.
The outlook is suddenly much different for the Dolphins (4-6), who have lost three straight and whatever momentum and hope they had generated after getting off to a better-than-expected start.
"Couldn't run the ball, and we couldn't throw the ball either," Bush said. "We just have to do a better job as a team, and find a way to better game-plan, better way to execute, offense and defense, and all phases of the game."