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Dolphins at Bills: First half recap and immediate reactions

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Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills have reached the intermission of their Week 7 AFC East rivalry renewal. The 0-5 Dolphins head into the break with a 14-9 lead.

The Dolphins won the coin toss for the fifth time in six games this season, again electing to defer to the second half. Buffalo started with the ball, running Frank Gore up the middle for an eight yard gain. On the play, Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was ejected for throwing a punch after the play ended. Bills quarterback Josh Allen then threw two incomplete passes before running for ten yards. Allen then looked short to fullback Patrick DiMarco, who broke a tackle and ran for a 27-yard gain. Gore then picked up two more yards before another run from Allen added seven yards, with Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe called for holding on the play, giving the Bills a first down. Allen tried to run again on the next play, picking up no yards, before two incomplete passes ended the drive. Buffalo settled for a 39-yard field goal from Stephen Hauschka. Buffalo 3-0.

Miami started with the ball at their own 20-yard line, only to lose ten yards on a sack of Albert Wilson, who took the backwards pass form Ryan Fitzpatrick and looked to throw, only to have rookie Ed Oliver pull him down for the loss. Running back Mark Walton fixed the Dolphins’ long yardage situation, gaining 19 yards on the 2nd-and-20 play. Kalen Ballage then added two yards on the next play to convert for a first down. Fitzpatrick could not complete a pass to DeVante Parker, who slipped on the route and could not recover to catch a low pass. Walton then lost a yard before Fitzpatrick was forced to try to scramble for the 3rd-and-11 conversion, picking up just three yards and leading to a punt.

Buffalo began with the ball at their own 30-yard line, with Gore picking up 10 yards on the first play, the Allen scrambled for 15 yards. Allen looked deep to Dawson Knox, who gained 20 yards on the play. Allen found Lee Smith for nine yards on the next play, before an offensive holding backed up the team again. Now 3rd-and-11 at the Miami 26, Allen could only connect with Isaiah McKenzie for one yard, leading to a 43-yard field goal from Hauschka. Buffalo 6-0.

After the kickoff, Fitzpatrick looked deep down the sideline to Preston Williams, dropping a ball between double coverage for a 35-yard gain. Walton then picked up five yards, 12 yards, and three yards on three straight carries, before Kenyan Drake picked up four yards. After Miami had to burn a timeout, Ballage added two yards on a 2nd-and-1 carry to give Miami a 1st-and-10 at the Buffalo 12. Parker had a pass bounce off his hands on first down, then Williams picked up nine yards on a pass from Fitzpatrick, setting up 3rd-and-1 from the Bills’ three. Ballage punched the ball into the endzone on the next play, giving Miami just their second lead of the season. Miami 7-6.

The Bills started at their own 25-yard line as they looked to answer, but backed up as they were called for holding on the first snap. Now 1st-and-20, Allen found John Brown for 10 yards, then Devin Singletary picked up nine yards. Allen rushed for 10 yards on the following play, then Gore added four yards. Allen looked deep for Brown on a 23-yard pass, with Singletary adding three yards. Allen then threw two incomplete passes and Hauschka kicked his third field goal of the game. Buffalo 9-7.

The 4:43 Bills drive was longer than Miami had led all season, which was at 3:47 entering the game. The Dolphins were going to look to increase that time on the next drive, with Fitzpatrick finding Williams for 13 yards on first down. Then Walton added a yard before Fitzpatrick connected with Albert Wilson on a slant that picked up 22 yards. Walton ran for five yards, followed by an incomplete pass from Fitzpatrick targeting Nick O’Leary, but a roughing the passer call moved the Dolphins up the field. Drake lost a yard on the next play, then Fitzpatrick found Parker for eight yards, then did it again for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Miami 14-9.

The Bills and Dolphins then traded three-and-outs, followed by the Bills just running out the clock and getting to halftime.

Immediate Reactions

Wow! The Dolphins came to play in the first half. They took it to the Bills, working the ground game, and they are playing well. Mark Walton is running like a beast, picking up 39 yards one seven carries. Ballage and Drake each have three carries, with Ballage picking up seven yards and a touchdown while Drake has 11 yards.

Fitzpatrick has looked in control. He looks different than he did in Weeks 1 and 2, and the offense is responding to him. He is 7-for-9 for 91 yards and a score, giving him a 145.8 passer rating.

The defense is playing well, even with all the players missing. Raekwon McMillan is quietly leading the team in tackles with five so far. Jerome Baker is looking fast, with three tackles and two quarterback hits. Vince Biegel recorded a sack. The defense is doing well...

...other than Christian Wilkins. There is no excuse for throwing a punch on the first play of the game. Whatever was said or however frustrated he was by the continuing block, being ejected on the first play is simply wrong.