The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills met in the regular season finale for both clubs. Both teams entered the game looking to continue playing next weekend, with the Bills having clinched the AFC East division title already, while Miami could make the playoffs with a win.
Miami would finish the game needing help from the Jacksonville Jaguars if they were to make the postseason - a berth that would mean they would have to head back to Buffalo next week.
Dolphins 26 - Bills 56
First Half Recap
The Dolphins won the toss and deferred to the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, the Bills ran a Wildcat formation run from running back Devin Singletary, who picked up five yards. Quarterback Josh Allen threw to John Brown from a seven-yard gain, then came back with a seven-yard pass to Isaiah McKenzie. Singletary lost a yard on a tackle from linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel who, after a five-yard pass from Allen to Stefon Diggs for a first down, came back to sack Allen for an 11-yard loss. On 2nd-and-21, Allen looked to Gabriel Davis on the sideline, with Byron Jones stepping in front of it and toe-dragging his way to an interception.
Miami started at the Bills’ 41-yard line after the takeaway - continuing Miami’s takeaway streak to the 22nd game and ensuring the team has at least one takeaway in every game this year. Running back Myles Gaskin started with a three-yard run up the middle, followed by a pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to tight end Durham Smythe for 11 yards. Gaskin took the next handoff for five yards, with Tagovailoa then throwing an incomplete pass on an attempted screen pass after a high snap. Another high snap and a missed assignment on the right side of the line led to a sack from Tremaine Edmunds for a nine-yard loss. Kicker Jason Sanders then converted a 49-yard field goal. Dolphins 3-0.
Zach Moss started the drive with a four-yard run for the Bills. Allen then connected with Moss for a 13-yard gain on a play that initially looked like Miami might get a sack. Moss picked up two yards on another run before two incomplete passes from Allen led to a Bills punt.
Miami stunted their next drive with a false start on the opening play. An incomplete pass on 1st-and-15 was followed by a six-yard run from Gaskin. On 3rd-and-9, Tagovailoa threw to Parker at the sticks, but the catch was made just shy of the first-down line, leading to a Miami punt.
The Bills started the drive with a three-yard jet sweep, with safety Eric Rowe recognizing the play and doing a great job in slowing down Isaiah McKenzie enough for Kyle Van Noy to get there and make the tackle. Singletary then picked up three yards before an incomplete pass led to a three-and-out punt from Buffalo - a perfect punt that kicked out of bounds at about the three-inch line.
Miami started with a Tagovailoa sneak for two yards, but then lost a yard on a run from Gaskin. Tagovailoa threw short to receiver Lynn Bowden, Jr., who turned it into a seven-yard gain, but Miami again punted after a three-and-out.
Allen started the Bills’ drive with a pass to Diggs for five yards to end the first quarter. Allen then threw to Singletary for a six-yard gain, followed by a pass to Diggs for eight yards. Allen came back to Diggs on a slant on the next play, picking up 18 yards. Moss picked up two yards on the first-down run, then Allen somehow broke containment to pick up four yards on a scramble. On 3rd-and-4 from the Miami seven-yard line, Allen found McKenzie on a crossing route for the seven-yard touchdown pass. Bills 7-3.
Salvon Ahmed started the drive with a four-yard run, then Tagovailoa was able to find tight end Adam Shaheen in the flat, who turned a short pass into a 22-yard catch and run. Ahmed then ran for no gain, which was followed by an incomplete pass from Tagovailoa. On 3rd-and-10, Miami returned to the bubble screen, with Bowden picking up three yards and leading to a punt.
Starting at their own 12-yard line, Allen began carving up a Dolphins defense that had been playing well. He found Diggs for eight yards, then Dawson Knox for 10 yards, and back to Diggs for 16 yards - with defensive end Christian Wilkins adding 15 yards on a late hit penalty. After Van Ginkel perfectly covered a screen pass attempt, leading to Allen throwing away the ball, Allen found McKenzie for 19 yards. Another throw away as Emmanuel Ogbah chased Allen deep behind the line of scrimmage. Allen then threw to Brown for six yards before a free play allowed Allen to direct traffic to the endzone, finding a wide open McKenzie. Bills 14-3.
Miami returned to their conservative offensive style, starting with a short pass to Bowden on the right for a yard, then coming back with another bubble screen to Bowden on the left for a yard. Tagovailoa looked deep for tight end Mike Gesicki on the 3rd-and-6 play, but it fell incomplete. Matt Haack came on for his fourth-straight punt, with this one returned by McKenzie for an 84-yard touchdown. Bills 21-3.
Getting the offense right back on the field after the punt return touchdown, Miami started with a pass from Tagovailoa to Bowden for ten yards. Gaskin then picked up ten yards up the middle, followed by a Tagovailoa pass to Gaskin for eight yards. A defensive pass interference penalty gave Miami a first down after Gesicki was mugged on the pass attempt. Tagovailoa then threw to Smythe, who turned it into a five-yard gain. Miami pulled out a trick play then, with Tagovailoa throwing a backward pass to Bowden, a college quarterback, who then threw back across the field to Gaskin, who turned upfield for a 32-yard gain, setting up a 1st-and-Goal for Miami at the Buffalo nine. Gaskin picked up two yards on the next play, leading into the 2-minute warning. Miami tried an endaround to Bowden on the 2nd-and-Goal play, only to lose seven yards. On 3rd-and-Goal from the 14, Miami looked to Parker in the endzone, but the pass fell incomplete and they settled for a 32-yard Sanders field goal. Bills 21-6.
The Bills continued to press the gas coming into the two-minute drill. Allen found Diggs for 16 yards, then Brown for 27-yards. After an incomplete pass, Allen threw a beautiful bomb to Brown in the back of the endzone. Bills 28-6.
Miami started with an incomplete pass as Isaiah Ford had the ball in his hands but could not complete the catch. Tagovailoa then threw to Bowden for five yards, with an incomplete pass on the next play leading to anther Miami punt.
Allen knelt to kill the clock.
First half immediate reactions
Miami gets an early takeaway, as Jones comes up with the pick! Teams have started trying to stay away from Xavien Howard, and it results in Jones getting more passes his way, and he is making it pay off.
Miami’s defense is playing lights out early.
Miami’s offense has to get out of its own way.
What a punt by the Bills! That was perfectly done.
Matt Haack is getting a workout. The offense is doing nothing, leading to punt after punt.
What has happened to this defense? Allen is just carving them up.
This went from exciting to deflating in the span of just a few minutes. Miami’s defense came out hot, then disappeared. The offense is not doing anything at this point. Miami’s playoff chances are diminishing with each play at this point.
Second half recap
Miami received the opening kickoff, and immediately took to the air and got some of their starters involved. Tagovailoa threw to Parker on the first three plays, picking up 17-yards, then 13-yards, then 25-yards on a gorgeous high-point catch. Tagovailoa then looked to Gesicki for five yards before returning to Parker for another six yards. Tagovailoa then took a quarterback draw six yards to set up 1st-and-Goal from the Buffalo nine. After two incomplete passes into the endzone, Tagovailoa looked to Parker again, with the ball falling incomplete but Josh Norman was called for the defensive pass interference, giving the Dolphins a first down at the one-yard line. Gaskin punched the ball in for the score on the next snap. Bills 28-13.
The Bills replaced Allen with Matt Barkley to start the half, given Buffalo already being locked into the postseason. He threw incomplete on first down, then Antonio Williams powered through Miami’s defense for an 18-yard gain. Williams ran for no gain on the next snap, followed by a 15-yard gain on a pass from Barkley to McKenzie on yet another slant. McKenzie took an end-around to the left, but Van Ginkel met him for the three-yard loss. On 2nd-and-13, Barkley threw a duck incomplete across the middle. Barkley then threw an incomplete pass in the flat on 3rd-and-13, leading to a punt.
On the first play of the Dolphins drive, Tagovailoa threw toward Parker, only to have the receiver slip as he made his cut, and Norman pick off the pass and return it for the touchdown. Bills 35-13.
Miami started with a seven-yard gain from Gaskin, then a short pass to Gesicki for two yards. After an incomplete pass that was nearly picked, Miami went for it on 4th-and-1, with Tagovailoa looking to pass, then scrambling for the conversion. An incomplete pass on first down was followed by a 16-yard scramble from Tagovailoa. Ahmed picked up one yard on first down, then an incomplete pass targeting Gesicki in double coverage set up 3rd-and-9. Tagovailoa looked to Ford, with the ball getting tipped away just before Ford could make the catch. On 4th-and-9, Tagovailoa looked to Parker, but Norman was able to break up the pass, leading to a Miami turnover on downs.
Williams started with a one-yard run for Buffalo, then Barkley looked deep to Knox for 19 yards. Barkley was then incomplete on first down, then again on second down with Van Ginkel batting down the pass at the line of scrimmage. Barkley then looked deep for Davis, with Xavien Howard recording his tenth interception on the year.
Tagovailoa again went to the air, starting with an incomplete pass attempt to Ford deep down the sideline. He then connected with Parker for 16 yards, followed by another incomplete pass. Tagovailoa and Gesicki connected for 11 yards, then Tagovailoa to Parker picked up another 31 yards on the back-shoulder throw that has been working perfectly whenever Miami trusts it. Tagovailoa ran for three yards before an incomplete pass as Parker dropped the ball. Then Tagovailoa looked to Bowden across the middle, throwing the ball a little high and Bowden tipped it downfield, where it was picked off by Dean Marlowe.
Buffalo moved quickly, starting from their own 21-yard line. After Williams ran for no gain, then seven yards, the clock ran down on the third quarter. Barkley then threw to McKenzie for three yards, before finding Davis 51 yards down the sideline. Williams then finished the drive with an 18-yard rush for a score. Bills 42-13.
On first down, Tagovailoa badly overthrew Gesicki, with Marlowe coming away with another interception.
Starting at the Miami 25-yard line, Barkley threw to Williams for a 20-yard gain. Williams then ran for three yards, and two yards, to score again. Bills 49-13.
Miami started with a two-yard run from Ahmed, then a pass from Tagovailoa to Gesicki for seven yards. Tagovailoa then ran for two yards before a pass to Ford for 12 yards and a pass to Ahmed for 13 yards. Ford then dropped another pass, followed by Parker dropping the pass. Gesicki pulled down a 23-yard pass to set up Miami with a 1st-and-10 at the Bills 16-yard line. Ahmed finished the drive with the run up the middle, but Miami failed on the two-point conversion. Bills 49-19.
Buffalo started working the clock, beginning with a one-yard run from Williams. After a Miami timeout Williams again ran for one yard. After the Dolphins’ second timeout, Barkley threw incomplete and the Bills punted.
Tagovailoa threw to Ford for seven yards, then Bowden for six yards, to start the possession. After a six-yard run from Ahmed, Tagovailoa found Hollins for five yards, only to have the receiver fumble the ball and Buffalo recover.
Barkley immediately attacked, throwing a 56-yard bomb to Davis for the touchdown. Bills 56-19.
Tagovailoa threw to Ahmed, but he was stopped for a one-yard loss. Smythe then picked up seven yards on a reception, followed by Tagovailoa throwing to Gesicki for 10 yards. Tagovailoa found Ahmed for seven yards, then Bowden for nine yards. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa found Ford for 18 yards, then looked to Perry deep down the sideline for the 25-yard touchdown. Bills 56-26.
Williams ran for seven yards to force Miami to use their final timeout. Williams then picked up five more yards as the clock reached the 2-minute warning. The Bills went into victory formation to run out the rest of the clock.
Second half immediate reactions
Dolphins offense found a rhythm and Tagovailoa attacked through the air.
The Dolphins defense is still sleeping. Oh, they forced the punt. Need more of that.
Ouch! Tagovailoa threw the ball just as Parker fell down. Norman assisted with the slip, but it was not enough to draw a flag. That could be a killer.
Wow, the Dolphins receivers just cannot hold on to the ball today.
Drop. Drop. Drop. Drop. This is insane.
Just ugly all around.
The Dolphins just did not show up on a day where a win would have locked them into the playoffs. This was bad in every aspect.