With more than six minutes remaining in Thursday's game between the Dolphins and Buffalo, fans at Sun Life Stadium started heading for the exits. At the two-minute almost half of the 71,573 fans were gone at Sun Life Stadium.
Both were good signs for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins, after a sloppy first half, dominated the second half and defeated the Bills, 22-9 to keep their playoff hopes in realistic view.
The Dolphins (6-4), led by their stingy defense and re-shuffled offensive line, are now in prime position to contend for the AFC playoff berth that has eluded them since 2008.
If they win four of their last six games and finish 10-6 they will put themselves in good position for a postseason berth. If they win three of the final six they finish 9-7 and have a decent chance of getting a playoff berth.
The Dolphins, who trailed Buffalo, 6-3, at halftime, outscored the Bills, 19-3, in the second half, holding them to 86 yards in the second half.
Running back Lamar Miller (19 carries, 86 yards,) playing with an injured left shoulder, keyed a running game that was as effective as its been all season.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (26-for-34 passing, 240 yards, two touchdowns) had a 114.8 passer rating, his third time surpassing 100 rating in the last five games.
The Dolphins took a 19-9 lead early in the fourth quarter when Tannehill hit Landry on an eight-yard touchdown pass, capping a six-play, 63-yard drive.
The Dolphins, the NFL's highest-scoring second half team at 15.6 points, lived up to their second-half heroics Thursday.
The Dolphins took a 10-9 lead when Tannehill faked a pitch left to Miller, rolled right and hit Brandon Gibson, wide open, in the end zone for the seven-yard touchdown pass.
Things got interesting from there.
Buffalo quarterback Kyle Orton was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a Dolphins safety and a 12-9 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff Jarvis Landry lost a fumble. Buffalo recovered but kicker Dan Carpenter was wide left on his 47-yard field goal attempt.
The Dolphins were using a shuffled offensive line due to the season-ending knee injury sustained by Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert last week. That meant rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James went to left tackle, left guard Dallas Thomas went to right tackle, and reserve Shelley Smith started at left guard.
They allowed five sacks but generally did a good job against a Buffalo defense that was No. 6 in total defense (320.7 yards per game), No. 8 in rushing defense (96.1 ypg) , No. 7 in pass defense (224.6 ypg) and No. 1 in sacks (34).
The Dolphins' defense entered No. 4 in total defense (309.8 ypg), No. 10 against the run (99 ypg), No. 2 against the pass (210.8 ypg), and tied for fourth in sacks (28).
This game was being hyped as a "playoff elimination game" by some. It was close. Both teams have games remaining at Denver and at New England, contests which will be tough to win.
Buffalo (5-5), which entered with a 2-1 record in AFC East games and 2-4 record in AFC games, finishes with three of its last four games on the road – at Denver (7-2), vs. Green Bay (6-3), at Oakland (0-9) and at New England (7-2).
The Dolphins, who entered with a 1-1 record in division games and 4-2 record in conference games, finishes at Denver (7-2), at the New York Jets (2-8), against Baltimore (6-4), at New England (7-2), against Minnesota (4-5) and against the Jets (2-8).
Buffalo entered Thursday's game having won three consecutive against the Dolphins and four of their last five. The Bills usually won their games with a combination of three elements – a strong ground game, a good showing by the defensive line, and big plays. In recent games they've been keyed to victory by an interception by safety Jairus Byrd (2012), a strip-sack and game-winning field goal (2013), and a blocked punt and 102-yard kickoff return touchdown (2014).
On Thursday, it was the Dolphins who made those plays, and now, it's the Dolphins who have an inside track at a playoff berth.