The Miami Dolphins left Orchard Park, New York on Saturday with a 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills. The win completed a season sweep of the Dolphins’ AFC East rivals and put the South Florida franchise in position to claim a playoff berth, a claim they made on Sunday when the Denver Broncos lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Miami ran through the Bills throughout the game, but it was not until late in the overtime period that running back Jay Ajayi broke his longest run of the day.
Miami got the ball back with four minutes remaining in the overtime period. Up until that point, the extra period had featured a missed field goal from the Bills on the opening possession, followed by a pair of traded punts. Miami lined up on first down at their own 15-yard line.
The Dolphins came out in a shotgun formation, with Ajayi to quarterback Matt Moore’s right. Wide receiver DeVante Parker was aligned close to the line of scrimmage on the offense’s left, with tight end Dion Sims on the line, but offset back. The right side of the offense featured wide receiver Kenny Stills out wide and wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the slot.
At the snap, Sims is going to pull across the offensive line and seal the backside of the run. The rest of the offensive line is immediately going to move left, with left tackle Branden Albert moving back and left to create the hole between himself and left guard Laremy Tunsil. The wide receivers will all move out and start blocking, with Parker looking to seal off the near side linebackers to keep them from filling the hole.
At the snap, you can immediately see Sims pulling, as well as how deep and wide Albert is moving to create the hole. Parker does an good job of moving past the first defender to get to the linebackers, allowing Albert to pick up the block he bypasses.
As Ajayi takes the handoff and begins moving toward the hole, the overaggressive style of the Bills, as was discussed repeatedly during the CBS broadcast, can be seen. The defenders on the offense’s left - where the play is going to end up - are bailing out of the area. The linebacker appears to be either in man coverage of Sims, so he is following the tight end across the line, or he is reading a run to the offense’s right on the play. Ajayi’s initial steps do seem to indicate a middle run, which could explain the safety pulling from his side of the field toward the hashmarks.
As Ajayi clears the hole, there is absolutely no one anywhere in front of him. The Bills, at this point, have one shot at stopping Ajayi, and they actually do make first contact with him here, so the entire 57-yard run also counts as “yards after contact” for the Dolphins’ running back.
And now it is a matter of speed and geometry. The Bills are basically in chase mode and Ajayi is going to run 57 yards.
The Bills do eventually chase down Ajayi, with Nickell Robel-Coleman taking the angle to catch Ajayi and make the tackle at the Buffalo 28-yard line. This set up Miami with a 1st-and-10, with Ajayi picking up eight yards on the next play, followed by running back Kenyan Drake adding three yards and a first down on the next play.
After the two minute warning, Ajayi added four yards, then six yards. He left the game at this point with what was described after the game as an AC joint injury, but one Ajayi says will not be an issue. The Dolphins would kneel on the ball on the next play, then kick the game-winning field goal with 47 seconds left in the contest.
Oh, and there was probably one more part of the play that helped Miami. Jumping back to the original image of the play pre-snap:
Yeah, the Bills only had ten players on the field for the play. That made it much easier for Miami to match up blockers.