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Dolphins miss playoffs but beat Bills 24-10

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Dolphins miss playoffs but beat Bills 24-10

MIAMI (AP) The whistle had blown and Reggie Bush stood in the end zone, holding the ball for a touchdown as he wiggled his right leg to free it from the annoying grasp of a Buffalo Bills defender.

Bush repeatedly shook loose Sunday, catching passes for two scores and running for a third to help the Miami Dolphins beat the hapless Bills 24-10.

The win kept Miami's slim playoff hopes alive for another six minutes. By the time they reached the locker room they had been eliminated because of Cincinnati's victory at Pittsburgh.

``It's hard to win in this league,'' Bush said. ``We've got to a do a better job obviously next season.''

Miami will sit out the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years.

``The NFL has a system in place - six teams earn a spot in the playoffs,'' first-year coach Joe Philbin said. ``It is what it is.''

The Bills (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. Coach Chan Gailey's team reached a double-digit loss total for the third year in a row, but he said he's not worried about his job security.

``No, I worry about getting better ... playing to our abilities, which we haven't done,'' he said. ``And that's my responsibility to get that done.''

The Bills missed a chance at a sweep of the season series with Miami.

``We came into this game playing for pride,'' said C.J. Spiller, who rushed for 138 yards. ``We were just trying to get the respect that we know we don't have right now.''

Respect has been elusive for the Dolphins, who need a win in Sunday's finale at New England to avoid their fourth consecutive losing season. There were signs of progress against Buffalo, with an efficient offense and a stingy defense that suddenly began forcing turnovers.

Safety Reshad Jones recovered two fumbles and made an interception at the Miami 1 with 71 seconds left to seal the victory. The Dolphins managed four takeaways playing with a patchwork secondary that included starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson, acquired Tuesday after being waived by Cleveland.

The Dolphins took advantage of Buffalo's woeful run defense by netting 182 yards on the ground while averaging 5.2 per carry. Lamar Miller had 73 yards, Bush 65 and Tannehill 44.

The Dolphins recovered three fumbles, doubling their season total, but their most spectacular takeaway was Jones' interception. Jones leaped at the line of scrimmage to snare Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass and clinch the win.

``He just made a heck of a play,'' Fitzpatrick said.

The Dolphins' flurry of takeaways came after they had one in their previous seven games.

``They come in bunches,'' linebacker Karlos Dansby said. ``We stuck with it.''

Along with the turnovers and 11 penalties, missed chances hurt the Bills. Stevie Johnson lost a fumble at the Miami 17 and dropped a pass in the end zone, when Buffalo settled for a field goal.

``Especially the first half there, I think that's as poor as we've played offensively since I've been here,'' Fitzpatrick said.

Buffalo settled for a field goal after Johnson's dropped pass. The ruling appeared questionable, but the Bills didn't challenge the call.

``If the ball rolls out without (the receiver) coming up with it and giving it to the official, they're not going to ever give it to you,'' Gailey said. ``So you're wasting a challenge there.''

NOTES: Miami CB Sean Smith hurt his left knee in the second half. ... For the Bills, TE Scott Chandler left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury. FB Dorin Dickerson was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. ... SS Da'Norris Searcy hurt his groin in the second quarter. CB Stephon Gilmore left with a head injury in the third quarter. ... TE Michael Egnew, Miami's third-round draft pick, was active for the first time and played seven snaps.

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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