Dolphins vs Bills recap: Ugly loss in Buffalo ends Dolphins control of playoff destiny

Rick Stewart

The Miami Dolphins leave western New York yesterday having played an ugly game against the Buffalo Bills and failing to score a single point. The loss took the Dolphins' control of their playoff destiny, but did not end their chances for the postseason.

The Miami Dolphins simply were dominated on Sunday, losing 19-0 to the Buffalo Bills in a game that could have been much worse for Miami. The Dolphins could not run the ball, pass the ball, stop the run, or stop the pass during the contest, which usually signals a really bad day. Add in the seven sacks allowed, and, that's exactly what it was.

To put it another way, the Bills had three times as many first downs as the Dolphins (18-to-6).

Miami had more three-and-outs on the day than they had first downs (7-to-6). Add in a turnover-on-downs and an interception on third down during the team's final possession.

Or, the Bills had 3.8 times as many yards gained on the day as the Dolphins (390-to-103).

Miami averaged 1.98 yards per play during the game. The Bills dominated the Dolphins, sweeping the South Florida franchise, and putting a huge dent in the playoff chances for Miami. But, they did not completely kill them.

If Miami wins next week as they host the New York Jets, and either Baltimore loses or San Diego wins, the Dolphins will still make the post season tournament. A second straight loss would end any chance of January football for Miami.

There really is not a lot to say about this game. We can continue to look at the statistics, like Buffalo sacking Ryan Tannehill seven times on the day, setting a new Dolphins franchise record for sacks allowed in a season, now at 58 with a game to play. Tannehill missed his first snaps of the game after the sixth sack, appearing to injure his leg. He came back into the game on the next series, but was pulled after the seventh sack. Matt Moore made his first 2013 appearances because of the injury.

We can look at the 19-play, 9-minute drive by the Bills that chewed up the second-half clock at the end of the third-quarter and into the fourth. It may have only resulted in a field goal, but it was enough to keep the Dolphins offense off the field and wear out the Miami defense. That drive should have ended in a three-and-out, but an illegal hands to the face penalty on Philip Wheeler led to a first down, and Buffalo marched methodically down the field after that.

Miami's rush defense finally appeared to be finding its stride this year, having held the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Jets to under 100-yards rushing over the past three weeks. On Sunday, the Bills tallied 203-yards rushing.

There is not a single area of the game, except maybe the 10-punt average from Brandon Fields (50.1 yards per punt), where Miami outplayed the Bills.

Even the perfect streak from Joe Philbin on coach's challenges ended during the game. Philbin had been 6-for-6 when throwing the red flag on the field, but missed one yesterday when he challenged whether Robert Woods stepped out of bounds after making a 57-yard catch-and-run.

Nolan Carroll was able to pick off a pass from Buffalo's Thad Lewis during the game, keeping Miami as the only team in the league to have a takeaway in every game this season. Of course, Moore's two interceptions gave the Bills the win in the turnover margin as well.

The best part of this game was the end, when the teams walked off the field and the misery ended. Now, it's a matter of seeing how fast the Dolphins can put the putrid performance from Sunday behind them, and if they can get back the level of play that had them in control of their own playoff destiny before yesterday.

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