Knowshon Moreno was the NFL’s leading rusher after the first week of the season and was a key factor in the Dolphins’ opening victory against the New England Patriots.
His encore performance didn’t go quite as planned.
Moreno was injured on his first touch of the game Sunday in a 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills and did not return.
Moreno will miss four to eight weeks with a dislocated elbow and possible fracture.
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“I saw him on the ground and knew it wasn’t good, because he never really stays on the ground,” receiver Mike Wallace said. “It was quiet for a little while. But it was early in the game and we had to keep playing. We missed his intensity. We missed that out there. We needed that.”
The Dolphins were facing second-and-4 from their 31-yard line on their second possession of the game. Ryan Tannehill took the snap in shotgun formation and handed off to Moreno, who ran to the right for 4 yards.
As Bills cornerback Nickell Robey was bringing Moreno down, linebacker Nigel Bradham came over to assist on the play and hit Moreno’s planted left arm, bending the elbow in a way elbows shouldn’t bend.
“I think he tried to put his arm down to stay up. I didn’t try to hit it,” Bradham said. “I just dove, and I think my shoulder pad hit his elbow or something.”
Fellow running back Orleans Darkwa said he didn’t think there was anything Moreno could have done to avoid the injury.
“Knowshon knows what he’s doing,” Darkwa said. “He runs hard. Freak injuries happen.”
Miami trailed almost the entire afternoon and its running game could never get going. After ripping off more than 5 yards per carry last week for 191 yards, the Dolphins managed only 81 yards on 20 carries Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium during Buffalo’s emotional home opener.
Lamar Miller ran 11 times for 46 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, which was not considered serious. Rookie Damien Williams carried five times for 19 yards. Darkwa added 31 yards receiving, and Miller had 7.
The Dolphins entered the red zone only twice and ran just one running play there — a 7-yard gain from Williams that set up Miami’s only touchdown pass on the next play.
Neither Moreno nor Miller spoke with reporters after the game.
Sunday was the second consecutive good performance for the Bills run defense, which allowed only 86 yards on the ground last week in an overtime win at Chicago.
“We did a good job, especially in the first half,” said Bills Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who had four tackles and a sack.
“We knew that was going to be a key point of the game. If we could limit their rushing yards and get them in favorable down and distance for us, with our crowd noise and guys that can rush the passer, we had an opportunity to make some plays.”
Williams said the Bills still saw Miami’s full complement of running plays after Moreno left the game.
“We’re still going to run the ball like we’re supposed to,” left tackle Branden Albert said.
“Lamar’s capable of running the ball, all the running backs are. It’s our job to open up the holes.
“We all know what Knowshon brings to the team,” he added. “We just got to keep fighting and hold down the fort until he gets back.”