The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills faced off in an AFC East showdown in Week 2 of the NFL season. It started ugly for the Dolphins, while the Bills spent most of the first half kicking field goals.
The opening drive started with a couple of big plays for the Bills, including a run straight up the middle for 11 yards from Fred Jackson on the first play from scrimmage. Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel later found wide receiver Sammy Watkins on a 28-yard catch, converting on third down. The drive would stall after that, though, thanks to some good defensive play including a Brent Grimes pass breakup at the goalline and a Jared Odrick quarterback hit just as Manuel tried to throw a pass.
After the punt, Miami took possession, with quarterback Ryan Tannehill standing tall in the pocket on first down and finding Brandon Gibson for 12 yards. After a six-yard run from Lamar Miller, Tannehill would be sacked by Kyle Williams on second down, then throw incomplete on a pass intended for tight end Charles Clay on third down, matching Buffalo's initial ball movement only to put opening drive.
Buffalo looked in trouble early on the next drive, when the pocket collapsed on Manuel and it appeared the Dolphins would get a big sack. Instead, Manuel escaped and found Jackson for a 28-yard catch-and-run, reaching the Miami 27-yard line. After another first down conversion on another Watkins reception, the Dolphins defense would finally slow the Bills attack, with Buffalo settling for a 27-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter.
The Dolphins came back on the next drive and appeared to be mounting an answer. On the second play from scrimmage, however, running back Knowshon Moreno gained four yards on a carry, but appeared to have his elbow bent backwards during the tackle. He has been ruled out of the game. The Dolphins would miss on a long pass to Mike Wallace on the next play, eventually lining up to punt. Brandon Fields would have his punt blocked, however, with Damien Williams picking up the ball and advancing it back to the Miami 31-yard line, where he was tackled and Buffalo took possession.
The Miami defense would hold during the next possession, allowing the Bills to move the ball from the 31-yard line down to the 9-yard line, but forcing a second 27-yard field goal from Carpenter.
The second quarter began with Miami in possession, having already moved 18-yards on the last play of the first 15-minute period when Tannehill found Mike Wallace. The rest of the drive, however, was plain ugly. The second play resulted in a negative five-yard pass from Tannehill to tight end Charles Clay. The third and fourth plays were both sacks on Tannehill, with Kyle Williams recording his second on the day and Jerry Hughes adding one of his own.
The Bills regained possession at their own 47-yard line after the punt, and immediately moved down the field, highlighted by a 30-yard pass from EJ Manuel to Sammy Watkins. The Dolphins defense would once again stiffen, however, the third time on the day they have allowed Buffalo into the red zone before stopping them. For the third time on the day, kicker Dan Carpenter would come on to attempt a field goal, connecting on all three, to give Buffalo a 9-0 lead.
Miami's next possession continued the run of futility for the offense, with dropped passes, a delay of game penalty, and an inability to mount any sort of drive. After a six play possession, in which the team gained 10 yards, Miami again punted.
Buffalo could not mount much of an attack on the next drive, gaining 14-yards on the field play, but stalling immediately after that.
Miami would match the inept drive, however, going three and out on a drive that included the second negative-yardage pass from Tannehill on the day, this time on a pass where he was simply trying to avoid a sack and somehow got the ball to Lamar Miller in the flat.
As seems to be the first half story for this game, the Bills again were able to start moving the ball against the Dolphins, specifically with another long completion to Watkins, this time for 17-yards. Then the Miami defense is able to clamp down and stop the drive. After briefly considering a long field goal attempt for Carpenter, the Bills instead decided to punt, giving the Dolphins the ball with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
With limited time remaining, the Dolphins simply ran the ball at the Bills, and were able to find success for the first time on the day. They did, however, simply run out the clock on the runs, rather than trying to save time with their three timeouts remaining.
The Dolphins trailed the Bills 9-0 at halftime.
The third quarter started much better for the Miami offense, who started finding success through the air. The team was able to go 64-yards in 13 plays, with Tannehill finding Wallace, Miller, Clay, and Brian Hartline during the drive. Miami would stall deep in Buffalo territory, however, and have to settle for a field goal.
On the board at 9-3, with an offense that looked like it might be figuring out the Bills defense, momentum could have swung back to Miami. Bills running back C.J. Spiller, however, answered the Miami field goal on the ensuing kickoff, going 102-yards for a touchdown and a 16-3 Buffalo lead.
It was not always pretty, but MIami was able to put together an 11-play, 64-yard drive on the next possession, working their way down the field for a touchdown. Continued by a fourth-down conversion and some Bills penalties during the drive, the drive was highlighted with a gorgeous one-handed grab from Wallace on a 14-yard fade route, with Tannehill putting the ball where only Wallace could make the play. Some of the early plays on the drive were horrible throws from the third-year quarterback, but Tannehill was able to get it together when needed and pulled Miami to within a single score.
The Bills would immediately respond, however, as they drive against the Dolphins' defense with little resistance. Buffalo would go 77 yards on six plays, gaining yardage in big chunks on the way to Watkins' first career touchdown. The score came on a 12-yard reception, giving Buffalo a 23-10 lead.
As the game moved to the fourth quarter, the offense for Miami returned to their inability to move the ball. The team nearly had a beautiful third-down conversion, but Miller dropped the pass through the seam and Miami again had to punt. Brandon Fields, already have shanked a kick and had one blocked, again he kicked the ball off the side of his foot and Buffalo was given good field position.
They would turn that field position into another Carpenter field goal, his fourth on the day, to extend the Bills' lead to 26-10.
The Dolphins would find some rhythm earon on the next drive, connecting on multiple short passes. However, the drive would stall when Miller ran for four yards on third-and-five, followed by a four-yard loss on a Tannehill run on fourth down. Miller was injured on the third down play, with an apparent right ankle issue. He was replaced in the game by Damien Williams.
The Bills would go three-and-out on the next possession, the first time they had done so on the day, only to have Landry muff the punt return and give the ball to the Bills deep in Miami territory. The Dolphins would get lucky as the drive would result in a missed field goal from Carpenter.
Miami could do nothing on the ensuing possession, turning the ball over on downs at their own 27-yard line. Buffalo would add another field goal.
The Dolphins would pad the stats on their final drive, moving down the field and into Buffalo territory before a game sealing Leodis McKelvin interception on an out route throw from Tannehill.
Along with the Moreno and Miller injuries, Miami also saw guard Shelley Smith leave the game with a leg injury and defensive back Sammy Seamster leave the game in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo continued to dominate Miami, having swept the Dolphins last year, and coming away with the 29-10 win to start this season. The two teams will meet again in November.
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