MIAMI — Ted Ginn Jr.’s career in Miami began with boos, and it took 18 months for him to silence the critics.
A draft bust no more, Ginn made seven catches Sunday for a career-high 175 yards, and the Dolphins overcame a nine-point third-quarter deficit to beat Buffalo 25-16.
With Ginn’s first 100-yard game, he made by far his biggest impact since Miami’s much-mocked decision to take him with the ninth overall pick last year. Fans at a draft party booed when the selection was announced, and he has heard plenty of criticism since.
“I just let all that go past my head,” Ginn said. “As long as the people on my team love me and want me to get better, the other stuff doesn’t matter.”
Like Ginn, the Dolphins these days are all about erasing labels: They’re no longer lousy. Miami (3-4) tripled its win total from last season under the new Bill Parcells regime, and broke a four-game losing streak against Buffalo.
“We needed this win,” said Dolphins cornerback Andre Goodman, part of a defense that shut out the Bills over the final 25 minutes. “We didn’t want to go to 2-5, and the season is over before the halfway point.”
The Bills (5-2) lost for the second time in three games and fell into a tie with New England atop the AFC East. They committed four turnovers, all in the fourth quarter to squash any comeback chances.
“It’s a game that’s very disappointing,” coach Dick Jauron said. “We just gave up too many big plays and turned the ball over. You do that in the NFL and your odds of winning are not good.”
Ginn set up Miami’s first two scores with receptions of 46 and 64 yards. Those completions were part of an efficient day for Chad Pennington, who went 22-for-30 for 314 yards with no interceptions.
“A lot of people are wondering, ‘Where’s Ted? Where’s Ted?”’ Pennington said. “With young receivers it takes awhile. He just keeps getting better and better. He’s hungry, and he wants to be the guy.”
Joey Porter had two sacks, including one to force a fumble for a safety as the Bills unraveled in the final period.
“We really killed ourselves,” Buffalo receiver Lee Evans said.
Dan Carpenter kicked field goals of 43, 45 and 35 yards, all in the final 23 minutes after the Dolphins fell behind 16-7.
“We could have folded,” Pennington said. “We didn’t do that.”
The Dolphins looked to the speedy Ginn to help them come from behind, and he turned a short pass into a 64-yard gain to set up a field goal that made it 16-10.
Ricky Williams’ 3-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive and put Miami ahead to stay. Will Allen’s interception of a harried pass by Trent Edwards led to another field goal and a 20-16 lead.
A punt pinned the Bills deep, and on third down Porter forced a fumble when he sacked Edwards in the end zone. Buffalo center Duke Preston recovered, giving Miami a safety.
Following the ensuing kick, the Dolphins moved 41 yards for another field goal — their fifth score in barely 19 minutes.
The Bills moved 35 yards in the final 1:38 of the first half to kick a field goal for a 9-7 lead, then began the second half with a 70-yard drive capped by Marshawn Lynch’s 8-yard run. But they were shut out the rest of the way.
Their mistakes down the stretch included a fumble on a sneak by Edwards, another after a reception by Robert Royal and a muffed punt by Roscoe Parrish.
“I don’t know if we were ready to play the entire game,” Edwards said.
Ginn set the tone on the game’s first play, beating the Bills deep for a 46-yard gain. The catch came against cornerback Terrence McGee, playing with a sore knee.
“I’m not making any excuses,” McGee said. “They had a great game. He had a great game.”
Eight plays later, on third down, Pennington lobbed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
The Dolphins said Ginn was a big part of the game plan and, as expected, the Bills were geared to stop the run.
“I had an opportunity and I took it,” Ginn said. “I tried to
run as fast as I could with it and as far as I could with it.”