ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- In a first half bereft of Dolphins highlights either on offense or defense, Marcus Thigpen literally ran into the special teams record book.
Thigpen returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, giving Miami its only points of the half. In doing so, Thigpen became the first Dolphins player in team history to score on a kick and punt return in the same season.
Previously, he returned a punt 72 yards for a score in the Dolphins’ season-opening loss at Houston.
Ted Ginn Jr. and Freddie Solomon both had touchdowns via punt and kick return during their Dolphins careers, but neither did so in the same season.
The evening wasn’t all roses for Darren Rizzi’s special teams, however. They gave up a return for a touchdown. as well.
Leodis McKelvin brought back the game’s first punt 79 yards for a score.
The fumble rule
Evidently, Joe Philbin’s “fumble and you’re benched” rule has selective applications.
A week after sitting Reggie Bush down for nearly an entire half for coughing up the football, Brian Hartline was not punished for doing the same.
Hartline fumbled after pulling in a 17-yard catch early in the first quarter, his first turnover in more than two years.
Yet on the Dolphins’ next possession, Hartline returned to the game.
Bush’s benching has been a topic of much discussion the past few days, and NFL Network’s Deion Sanders said the implications of the move were clear.
“[Philbin] sent Reggie Bush a message: ‘You will not be here next year,’ ” Sanders said.
Bush, who started Thursday, is in the final season of a two-year deal.
Jabar Gaffney, hampered by a knee injury this week, did not dress Thursday. Marlon Moore served as the Dolphins’ No. 3 receiver, and Rishard Matthews was active for just the second time this season.
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel missed his second game in three weeks with a knee injury that has bothered him all season.
Jeron Mastrud (hamstring) also was inactive, as were Pat Devlin, Will Yeatman and Michael Egnew.
Egnew hasn’t played all season, and Miami chose to sit him Thursday and go with just two tight ends.
This and that
• The Bills’ defense has taken a fair amount of criticism this season, but it dominated the Dolphins’ offensive line for much of the night. Miami’s struggles were crystallized when Buffalo linebacker Shawne Merriman shoved Jake Long to the ground on a toss play.
• The announced game-time temperature was a brisk 35 degrees, with a windchill below freezing.
• Former Kansas City Chiefs executive — and friend of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — Carl Peterson attended Thursday night’s game, and was in the press box at halftime.
• NFL Network broadcaster and former UM Hurricanes star Michael Irvin made the rounds while the Dolphins warmed up before the game, giving Ryan Tannehill a bear hug and apparently showing Hartline how to get out of his break.
• The Dolphins were penalized for more yards (54) in the first half than they gained on offense (50).
Miami’s first trip into Buffalo territory didn’t come until the 3:51 mark of the third quarter.
• Dolphins captains: Mike Pouncey, Cameron Wake and Jason Trusnik.
• Announced paid attendance at Ralph Wilson Stadium: 69,118.