The Miami Dolphins come out on top of the Buffalo Bills in their Week 11 AFC East showdown.
The Dolphins opened the game with the ball, looking to start fast against the team that beat them in Week 2. They successfully were able to move the ball down the field, working through the air, highlighted by a 32-yard catch and run from Damien Williams on a pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The driver, however, would stall at the Buffalo 20-yard line and Miami would settle for a 38-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis.
After going 68 yards, only to take a 3-0 lead, Miami's offense watched as the Bills mirrored the drive almost perfectly. Buffalo quarterback Kyle Orton took to the air to attack Miami's defense, including multiple first down conversions from Orton to former Dolphins wide receiver Chris Hogan. Just like Miami, the Bills would settle for a field goal, tying the game at 3, and nearly matching Miami by moving 67 yards on the drive.
Hogan, who would gain notoriety during the Dolphins appearance on HBO's Hard Knocks where he was given the nickname 7-11 for being "always open," recorded four receptions for 40 yards in the half.
The Dolphins would again drive the field on their next possession, and again reach the red zone. On the sixth play, Tannehill attempted to run out of pressure, but would get hit from behind and fumble the ball. The Bills would recover, Tannehill's first lost fumble in his last 19 games, ending a 67-yard drive from the Dolphins.
Buffalo would take control of the ball at their own 12-yard line and again find success moving the ball against the league's fourth ranked defense. And 85-yard drive would end in the Bills settling for their second field goal of the game, with former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter connecting to give Buffalo a 6-3 lead in the second quarter.
Now trailing, Miami's offense would take the field and look to put the first touchdown on the board. It wouldn't work out that way, though, as the Dolphins would stall after moving 39 yards, with Brandon Fields punting the ball away.
After Miami's Will Davis pinned the ball inside the five yard line, Orton took a knee and killed the first half clock.
The second half opened with a three and out from Buffalo, followed by a six play, one-yard drive from Miami, with penalties and sacks negating Miami's gains on the drive.
The Bills would add another field goal on their next possession, driving 49 yards over eight plays, including more use of Hogan as he gashes his former team. This time, he picks up 23 of the Bills' yardage on the drive, but Buffalo would have to turn to their other former Dolphins player in Carpenter to extend the lead to 9-3.
Miami finally figured out the Bills defense on their next drive, taking the ball a quick 80 yards on nine plays, including 59 yards through the air from Tannehill. The drive was highlighted by a Brian Hartline 31 yard catch and run and the seven-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Brandon Gibson. Miami took the lead 10-9, but were not content to leave it there for long.
On the third play of a negative-20 yard drive for the Bills, Orton threw the ball to no one as Olivier Vernon closed in on him. After conferring, the referees called the pass intentional grounding, with Orton in the end zone, giving Miami a safety.
The Dolphins extended their lead to 12-9.
Just before the end of the quarter, Buffalo would kick the free-kick after the safety. Rookie wide receiver Jarvis Landry fumbled the ball on the return, giving Buffalo the ball at the Dolphins' 39-yard line. The great field position would be wasted when Carpenter attempted a 47-yard field goal that would end up wide left.
Miami would immediately take the ball down the field, taking advantage of a 24-yard defensive pass interference call against Stephon Gilmore to get down inside the Buffalo 10-yard line. From there, Tannehill found Landry for the eight-yard score, making up for the rookie's fumble.
The Bills would pick up a first down on their next possession on a Orton pass to Bryce Brown for 16 yards on a second down play. After that, though, they would see a short run from Anthony Dixon followed by two incomplete passes and a punt.
Miami would drive 43 yards, eating a little over five minutes off the clock before Fields punted the ball back to the Bills, pinning them at their own 10-yard line.
Buffalo would try to convert a fourth down on the drive, but would fail and give Miami the ball at the Bills' 20-yard line. Miami would run the ball twice, then take a shot at the endzone before a Sturgis field goal added to the lead, making it 22-9.
The Bills would again go for it on fourth down on their next possession, again failing. Miami continued to work the clock, running out the remaining time with Daniel Thomas.
The Dolphins continued their slow starts, followed by adjustments at halftime and a better second half in this game. Miami has scored the most third quarter points this season, adding nine more points this third quarter. Both the offense and defense opened up in the second 30-minutes, and took it to the Bills, winning the game behind a good performance from Tannehill and a defense that shut down Buffalo.
Tannehill finished the game 26-for-34 for 240 yards, with two touchdowns and a 114.8 passer rating.
The Dolphins improve to 6-4 on the season, while the Bills fall to 5-5. Miami faces the Denver Broncos in Colorado next week, while the Bills host the New York Jets.
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