Leading a stifling defensive effort that included six sacks, Buckley returned an interception 74 yards to spark Miami's 20-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Despite the win, the Dolphins (9-6) were eliminated from the AFC wild-card race when the Broncos (10-5) beat the Colts 31-17 on Sunday night in Indianapolis.
Still, the Dolphins put aside questions that have haunted their past.
So much for critics who harped on an inability to win on the road in December, and blamed the defenders for their porous performance in last Monday's 34-27 loss to Philadelphia.
"Everything that was written that gave the guys an opportunity to doubt themselves, that didn't happen," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It's a remarkable job that this football team was able to keep its focus."
If there was criticism, Buckley didn't notice.
"I don't care, I don't read, I don't pay attention," Buckley said. "And I wish all the guys would realize that that's just talk."
His reply came on the field.
With the Bills trailing 13-3 in the third quarter and threatening to mount a comeback with the ball on the Miami 29, Buckley stepped in front of Drew Bledsoe's pass and ran it back untouched up the left sideline.
It was one of several defensive contributions. Jason Taylor had 2½ sacks, giving him 69½ for his career to become the Dolphins' sacks leader. And Miami limited the Bills to 177 yards -- and a mere 49 before Buckley's score.
Chris Chambers scored on a 23-yard reception on the Dolphins' first possession, and two turnovers by the Bills led to Olindo Mare's field goals from 28 and 30 yards.
Miami snapped a two-game losing streak and won on the road for the first time in December or later since closing the 2000 season with a victory at New England -- ending a six-game losing streak.
The Bills (6-9) bumbled their way through the game, an apparent letdown after they were eliminated from playoff contention with last week's 28-26 loss at Tennessee.
Bledsoe's season-long struggles continued. He finished 12-of-24 for 114 yards passing, the eighth time this season he has failed to break 200. That's a significant drop from last year, when Bledsoe set 10 franchise passing records in his first season with the Bills.
And it's even more discouraging considering the high expectations Bledsoe had for a team hoping to build off last season's promising 8-8 finish.
"Right now I'm so mad. I didn't see the season going this way," Bledsoe said. "I'm trying to figure out what the answers are. I'm so angry right now."
Coach Gregg Williams was unemotional and looked stunned after a loss that further raises speculation he won't be rehired after he completes the third and final year of his contract this season.
"We just didn't play very well," Williams assessed the game, speaking in a monotone.
And without saying who, Williams called it "unfortunate that some people around the ball didn't play as well today, and put us in a hole."
There was much blame to spread around in a game the Bills turned over the ball four times and couldn't score despite three tries from inside the Miami 6, eventually settling for Rian Lindell's 23-yard field goal.
The Dolphins' defense took the pressure off quarterback Jay Fiedler, who finished 8-of-17 for 46 yards and an interception. Ricky Williams, who missed six plays in the first half because of a shoulder injury, led Miami with 111 yards rushing.
Williams credited the defense, saying: "I think everyone understands that is the strength of our team. If they keep playing like that, there are good things in our future -- especially if Denver loses."
- Taylor had 1½ sacks on consecutive plays near the end of the first half to move him ahead of Bill Stanfill, who held the previous Dolphins record of 67½.
- Chambers' 10th touchdown of the season made him the first Miami receiver to reach double digits since Mark Clayton had 12 in 1991.
- Including Buffalo's 17-7 loss at Miami in September, the Bills combined for 295 yards offense, 19 first downs and no offensive touchdowns against the Dolphins this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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