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Dolphins at Bills leads to end of Miami playoff chances

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Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins met with the Buffalo Bills in a Week 15 meeting between the two AFC East rivals. Both teams came into the game looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, with the Bills entering the week in the final Wildcard position while the Dolphins started the day a game behind Buffalo.

The game never looked good for the Dolphins, who dropped the game 24-16.

First Half Recap

The Bills received the opening kickoff, starting with the ball at their 19 yard line. They immediately took it straight at the Dolphins’ defense, picking up chunks of yards both on the ground and through the air. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, returning after missing last week, found Patrick DiMarco on the first play for six yards. After an incomplete pass, Taylor then found tight end Charles Clay for a nine yard gain. Running back LeSean McCoy picked up five yards on two carries before a 12 yard pass from Taylor to McCoy picked up the pace again. Taylor found Nick O’Leary no the next play, picking up eight yards, before Travaris Cadet picked up 12 yards on a run. Taylor then found O’Leary again for a 25 yard gain, giving the Bills 1st-and-Goal from the Dolphins’ four-yard line, with McCoy running it into the endzone untouched on the next play. It marked the first time in 19 games the Bills scored on their opening possession.

Bills touchdown. BUF 7-0.

Miami came out looking to answer, starting with an 11-yard gain on a pass from quarterback Jay Cutler to tight end Julius Thomas. On the next play, however, the Dolphins started backing up. First, running back Kenyan Drake slipped after receiving a handoff, losing two yards. Then, Laremy Tunsil was flagged for a false start and the Dolphins now faced a 2nd-and-17. Two incomplete passes led to a Miami punt.

Miami’s defense showed up on the next possession. After an incomplete pass, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh stuffed McCoy in the backfield for a two-yard loss, then Cameron Wake and Charles Harris met at Taylor, with Wake getting credit for a sack. Buffalo punted on the three-and-out possession.

The Dolphins offense also showed up after taking their first possession off, starting with another Cutler pass to a tight end for 11 yards, this time finding Anthony Fasano on the opening play of the drive. Drake then made up for his two-yard loss, picking up four yards on the next play, before breaking out for 31 yards on the possession’s third snap. Cutler then found wide receiver DeVante Parker for four yards on 1st-and-10 from the Buffalo 13-yard line. On second down, Drake picked up a yard, then Cutler was sacked on 3rd-and-5, leading to a 28-yard field goal attempt from Cody Parkey.

Dolphins field goal. BUF 7-3.

The Bills were able to pick up 12 yards on a McCoy run on first down, but did not accomplish much more after that. McCoy added one yard on the next play, then Taylor found the running back for five yards before an incomplete pass, and a declined holding penalty, led to a punt.

Miami started their third possession with another 11-yard gain, this time on a pass from Cutler to Parker. Drake then picked up 19 yards before the first quarter ended. Cutler overthrew wide receiver Kenny Stills on a deep pass attempt on the next play, with a 13-yard gain on a pass from Cutler to Landry followed by a run from wide receiver Jakeem Grant picking up seven yards on the next first-down play. After another incomplete pass, Cutler picked up six yards on a scramble. Drake then picked up five yards on first down and four yards on second down. Tight end MarQueis Gray lined up at fullback on the 3rd-and-1 play, picking up two yards on the dive. After Drake lost three yards, Cutler threw an incomplete pass deep toward Landry. On third down, the Dolphins set up a wide receiver screen that appeared like it had enough blockers to pick up the needed 13 yards, but Cutler threw the ball high and Parker had to jump to get it, picking up just seven yards. Parkey came out to connect from 41 yards.

Dolphins field goal. BUF 7-6.

Buffalo started with the ball at their own 25-yard line after a touchback, but McCoy quickly added 13 yards to his total on the day. After an incomplete pass on the second play, Taylor picked up four yards on a scramble on 2nd-and-10. Taylor then found Clay for 21 yards, setting up the Bills near midfield. McCoy then picked up 14 yards, pushing him over the career 10,000 yards rushing mark. Cadet came in on the next play after McCoy appeared to have the wind knocked out of him, picking up seven yards. After an incomplete pass from Taylor, the quarterback connected with McCoy for a 16-yard score.

Bills touchdown. BUF 14-6.

Miami would pick up two yards on two carries from Drake to start the next drive, then Cutler found Landry for 13 yards. Drake would lose five yards on the next play, then Cutler would connect with Landry again for eight yards. Cutler overthrew Parker on 3rd-and-7, with Parker appearing to stop on one route, while Cutler thought he was running something else; Parker nicely broke up a possible interception. Miami punted after the failed conversion.

The Bills extended their lead with the next possession, starting with a 29 yard gain out to midfield on a pass from Taylor to Clay. Taylor then threw a 14-yard pass to Cadet, followed by a seven-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin. After a Miami timeout for an injury to defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, Taylor was able to find McCoy for 13 more yards, with Taylor then ending the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run.

Bills touchdown. BUF 21-6.

The Dolphins killed the clock and headed into halftime.

First Half Reactions

The Dolphins look stiff on both offense and defense. They will have a good play, but there is no rhythm. Drake has looked good early in the game, tallying 54 yards in the half, but 53 of them came in the first quarter. The offense has to get back to getting the ball to Drake.

The defense is struggling with McCoy and Clay at this point. McCoy has 46 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and 46 yards on four receptions with a touchdown. Clay has three catches for 59 yards. Kiko Alonso is being picked on right now, and the defense needs to adjust to get him some help.

Second Half Recap

The Dolphins received the kickoff, starting at their own 25-yard line after the touchback. Cutler threw to Fasano on the first play of the drive, then threw an incomplete pass on second down. On third down, Cutler looked deep for Stills, but threw a poor pass - even with a hold possibly slowing down Stills - and the ball was picked off.

McCoy lost three yards on the Bills first play, then Clay picked up five yards on a Taylor pass on 2nd-and-13. On 3rd-and-8, Suh pressured Taylor, but the quarterback picked up 17 yards as he broke out of the pocket. Taylor then missed on a deep pass, with McCoy picking up three yards on the next play - a play where defensive end Terrence Fede clearly pulled McCoy down by the facemask, but no penalty was called. After two deep incomplete passes, the Bills turned over the ball on downs.

The Dolphins took over at their own 36-yard line, with Cutler finding Grant for 13 yards on a short pass and run. Cutler then connected with Landry for nine yards, setting up a 2nd-and-1 play, with Cutler fumbling the snap, then picking it up and somehow converting for the first down. Drake lost two yards on a pass, then Thomas picked up four yards on a pass from Cutler. After an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-8, Miami attempted a fourth down play of their own, but Cutler badly overthrew everyone and the ball was picked off by Shareece Wright, who returned the ball 51 yards before fumbling it and falling on the ball himself.

Taylor then found Brandon Tate on a screen pass that the receiver ran for 21 yards. After McCoy lost a yard, Taylor threw an incomplete pass on second down. On 3rd-and-Goal from the Miami three-yard line, McCoy picked up two yards. After initially going for it on fourth down, penalties backed the Bills up to a 4th-and-Goal from the 16-yard line, deciding to settle for the field goal.

Bills field goal. BUF 24-6.

Miami then went three-and-out as their answer for the field goal.

Buffalo lost a yard on a McCoy run to start the next drive, but then saw a free five yards when Ndamukong Suh jumped off sides on 2nd-and-11. The 2nd-and-6 play saw McCoy pick up five yards, then Cadet picked up five more on 3rd-and-1. Taylor was sacked by Xavien Howard on the next play, losing 11 yards, but then Taylor connected with Benjamin for 13 yards. On 3rd-and-8, Taylor threw an incomplete pass leading to a punt, with former Dolphins cornerback Lafayette Pitts downing the ball inside the one-yard line.

The Dolphins picked up five yards on a dive from Gray who lined up as the fullback. After the intermission between quarters, Cutler found Landry for six yards, then Parker for 36 yards. Cutler then found Parker for another 12 yards, with a 10-yard penalty called on Landry, followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same play from Landry, leading to a 1st-and-35 situation. Drake picked up 12 yards to make it 2nd-and-23, with Cutler finding Parker for 18 yards. On 3rd-and-5, Cutler dropped the ball as he dropped back after the snap, falling on it and allowing the sack with a nine-yard loss. Miami then punted from their own 44-yard line.

The Bills would go three-and-out, with Grant able to return the punt to the Bills 26-yard line. Then, a flag for a horse collar tackle on Grant moved the ball down to the Bills’ 13-yard line for the Dolphins. Drake picked up 10 yards on first down, setting up a 1st-and-Goal from the three-yard line. Cutler again fumbled on the next play, but was able to pick up the ball and threw a pass toward Parker, but it fell incomplete. On 2nd-and-Goal, Drake picked up two of the three yards needed. He was unable to pick up a yard on the next play, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty game Miami a new set of downs from the one-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Drake finally punched the ball into the endzone.

Dolphins touchdown. BUF 24-13.

Buffalo moved the ball well on their next drive, but would not be able to put any points on the board. Taylor started the drive with a pass to Deonte Thompson for 16 yards. Then McCoy lost three yards before an incomplete pass on second down. Taylor scrambled for 10 yards on 3rd-and-13, then an illegal use of hands penalty on Howard pushed Buffalo to a first down. McCoy picked up six yards, then three yards, before losing five yards, pushing the Bills out of field goal range and leading to a punt.

Miami started with the ball at their own 14-yard line, with Cutler finding Parker for 13 yards on the first play. An incomplete pass then led to 2nd-and-10, with Cutler finding Stills for eight yards. Cutler then found Landry for 13 yards before an incomplete pass toward Stills. Cutler was then sacked on another fumble, losing nine yards. Cutler found Drake for 11 yards, setting up a 4th-and-14 attempt. Cutler connected with Landry for 17 yards on the play, picking up the first down. Cutler then found Drake for nine yards, then again found him for five yards. After an incomplete pass, Cutler looked deep for Parker in the endzone, but Parker stumbled as the ball was in the air and the pass was nearly picked off. On 3rd-and-10, Miami Cutler threw short to Drake, who converted the first down and got out of bounds with just over a minute left. Cutler then threw a short pass to Landry for seven yards in the middle of the field, with Miami then running a fake spike play which feel incomplete. Cutler threw incomplete toward Landry on 3rd-and-3, before Parkey kicked a 26-yard field goal.

Dolphins field goal. BUF 24-16.

On the onside kick, Parkey kicked it short, but it bounced off a Bills player and punter Matt Haack recovered the kick. On the first play after the recovery, however, Cutler thew his third interception of the game, simply throwing a horrible pass to no one.

The Bills killed the clock.

Immediate Reactions

This game was a mess for the Dolphins. They would have a moment of things looking like they were coming together, and then the wheels would fall off again. Getting beaten by the Bills is one thing, but looking like they did on Sunday is something completely different. This was not the team we all saw against the Denver Broncos or the New England Patriots the last two weeks.

This better not be the team we see next week against the Chiefs or in two weeks when the Bills head down to Miami.