The Miami Dolphins had a chance to extend their AFC East lead early in the 2021 NFL season with a win over the Buffalo Bills. After beating the New England Patriots in Foxboro last week, the Dolphins were home and looking to move to 2-0 while dropping the Bills to 0-2.
Instead, the Dolphins never really showed up. Even when they had a good play or started to put together a drive, a penalty, dropped pass, or sack was never far away. While the Bills were clearly the better team on the field on Sunday, the Dolphins were fighting against themselves almost as much as they battled the Bills. It was an ugly performance and one that the Dolphins have to make sure does not happen again.
There will be focus during this week on the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who left the game injured in the first quarter. Tagovailoa held his ribs after being hit on a pass attempt and looked in immense pain as he finally walked off the field. The team took him by cart back to the locker room and confirmed it was an injury to Tagovailoa’s ribs. He did not return to the game.
Bills 35 - Dolphins 0
The Dolphins received the opening kick, but the drive started with a seven-yard sack on first down as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could not find anyone open. Myles Gaskin picked up six yards on a run on second down, but Tagovailoa was sacked again on third down and the Dolphins punted on the three-and-out drive.
The Bills’ first possession was even shorter. After a 20-yard punt return to the Miami 46, quarterback Josh Allen overthrew wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Then on second down, Devin Singletary took the ball straight up the middle for a 46-yard touchdown. Bills 7-0.
Gaskin opened the next Miami possession with an 18-yard run, but the pressure continues to get to Tagovailoa and he has to throw away what should have been an easy pass play. Tagovailoa connected with DeVante Parker for a 14-yard gain, but it was negated by an ineligible player downfield penalty on left tackle Austin Jackson, leading to a 2nd-and-15 play. Pressure again got to Tagovailoa, who had to throw away the pass again. On 3rd-and-15, a screen pass to Jaylen Waddle picked up 13 yards, moving the ball to the Buffalo 48-yard line. Electing to go for it on fourth down, Tagovailoa threw toward Albert Wilson, but was hit as he let go of the ball and it fell short. Tagovailoa grabbed his ribs as he laid on the turf and was clearly in pain.
The Bills used the field position to their advantage. After a one-yard pass from Allen to Isaiah McKenzie, Singletary picked up four yards. After Miami pressured Allen, but let him scramble for a six-yard gain, Allen threw a bomb to Emmanuel Sanders for a 35 yard gain. On 1st-and-Goal from the Miami six, Allen was forced to throw the ball away. After a Singletary run for a yard, the Dolphins created pressure on Allen again, but the quarterback escaped and found Diggs in the middle of the endzone for the touchdown. Bills 14-0.
Miami brought in Jacoby Brissett with Tagovailoa questionable to return with a rib injury, but the offense did not find a spark. Brissett found Parker for a seven-yard gain on first down, but then Gaskin lost a yard and Brissett was sacked to end the drive with another three-and-out.
The Bills gained 11 yards on their next two plays, first a ten-yard run from Zack Moss, then another run for a yard. On 2nd-and-9, Moss caught a short pass from Allen, turned up field, but Jerome Baker stripped the ball and Jevon Holland ultimately recovered the ball (after it was initially picked up by Brandon Jones, but fumbled again).
Miami started the drive at the Bills’ 42-yard line, with running back Salvon Ahmed picking up two yards. After a false start penalty backed up the Dolphins to the Bills’ 45-yard line, Brissett tried to find Parker, but the play was broken up by Levi Wallace, who was then was called for taunting and gave Miami a free first down. Gaskin lost a yard on the next play, then Brissett had tight end Mike Gesicki open down the sideline, but floated the pass and it was picked off by Wallace.
The Dolphins defense showed up on the next Bills drive, with Singletary stopped for a loss on first down, then Allen threw the ball away on second down. Allen was again pressured on third down, but got the pass away, with Baker able to knock it down mid-flight. Buffalo punted on a three-and-out.
Brissett found tight end Mike Gesicki on first down for six yards, then threw incomplete targeting Gesicki again. On the final play of the quarter, Brissett was able to find Waddle for a nine-yard gain, converting on third down for the Dolphins for the first time on the day.
- What an ugly start to the game for both the offense and the defense. Two sacks allowed on the opening possession, then a huge run for a touchdown on the second play of the Bills possession. They just did not execute at all on either side of the ball.
- The offensive line is going to get Tagovailoa killed today. He cannot even find the time to throw a screen pass.
- Oh, and now Tua is hurt. Tagovailoa is clearly not well. He barely is moving as he finally gets off the field.
- Damn. Tagovailoa on the cart heading into the locker room. Not good at all.
- The defense is trying to make plays, but the offense cannot find itself.
After the break, Brissett was able to scramble for six yards, then threw to Waddle for five yards. Ahmed ran for a two-yard gain on first down, followed by a Brissett scramble that just passed the line of scrimmage getting the Dolphins to the 50-yard line. Brissett then threw an 18-yard pass to Gesicki, setting up the Dolphins in Buffalo territory. After an incomplete pass in the endzone that Parker should have caught, the Bills were called for an offside penalty. Brissett then threw to Gesicki again, this time for 12 yards. Brissett then found Waddle for four yards. On 2nd-and-6, Brissett threw a pass on a crossing route to Albert Wilson, but the receiver dropped the ball. On third down, Brissett connected with Jakeem Grant for five yards, but as he fought for the extra yard, he was spun around and fumbled, with the Bills recovering.
Singletary started the drive with a two-yard run. followed by Allen throwing to Cole Beasley for a yard. Allen then threw to Beasley again, picking up seven yards on 3rd-and-6. After a false start on the Bills, Allen threw an incomplete pass. On 2nd-and-15, Allen threw short to Diggs, but cornerback Xavien Howard cut in front of the receiver and picked off the pass.
Miami picked up three yards on a Gaskin run to start the possession, but Brissett was sacked on second down, losing nine yards. Brissett was able to find Waddle for a 14-yard gain, setting up a 4th-and-2 attempt from Miami. Malcolm Brown took the handoff, but was stopped just shy of the line of gain and the Dolphins turned over the ball on downs for the second time in the contest.
The Bills picked up nine yards on two Singletary runs, but were stopped on third down when Moss only got back to the line of scrimmage. Buffalo punted on the three-and-out possession.
Miami started with the ball on their own 35-yard line, but a holding penalty backed them up to the 25. With only three minutes remaining in the half, Miami turned to Brissett and the passing game to try to put points up on the board. The quarterback connected with Parker for four yards, then Gaskin for 11 yards, then, after the two-minute warning, with Parker for 16 yards. After an incomplete pass, Brissett scrambled for two yards, getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Brissett then found Gesicki for 11 yards, followed by an incomplete pass with Wilson unable to hold on to the ball again. A horrible intentional grounding penalty backed up Miami ten yards, with Waddle able to pick up four on a reception on 3rd-and-20, leading to a Dolphins punt.
Singletary picked up eight yards on first down, then a holding penalty and a false start penalty backed up the Bills to the four-yard line. After a four-yard run from Singletary, Miami called a timeout, hoping to get the ball back. After Allen had his pass batted down, the Bills were forced to punt.
And Waddle muffs the punt with the Bills recovering.
Allen threw an incomplete pass on first down, with Byron Jones breaking up the play. On second down, Allen found Diggs for seven yards, then had to throw it away on third down. The Bills missed the field goal attempt.
Miami ran out the clock.
- The Dolphins offense has to wake up. Even when they seem to find a rhythm, they find a way to screw it up. Drops and fumbles are killing the team.
- That intentional grounding call was crap. Brissett was trying to throw the ball to (I think) Mack Hollins, but was being pulled down. That was miserably bad.
- This is just ridiculous now. Drops, fumbles, muffed kicks. It is just stupid.
- Okay. The first half is over. Time to put that crap behind us and have a great second half.
The Bills opened the half with the ball and looked like the team that started the game. Allen found Beasley over the middle, who stretched the play into a 22-yard gain. Allen then connected with Sanders for a 13-yard gain, followed by an incomplete pass. On a pass in the flat, Singletary ran up the sideline for a six-yard gain, fumbling the ball out of bounds at the end of the play, with Miami called for a facemask penalty adding 15 more yards to the play. After another incomplete pass, Singletary picked up four yards on a run, followed by a Diggs reception for seven yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the Miami eight-yard line, Allen found Knox for the score. Bills 21-0.
Miami’s first possession of the half started with Wilson picking up five yards on a pass from Brissett. After an incomplete pass, Brissett found Parker for eight yards to convert the first down. Ahmed then ran for eight yards, before an incomplete pass, a false start, and a pass for no gain stalled out the drive and forced a punt.
Buffalo started the drive on the ground, with a Singletary run for one yard. After offsetting penalties negated a four-yard scramble from Allen, the Bills came back with a designed run for Allen, picking up 15 yards, with an unnecessary roughness on Brandon Jones adding another 15 yards. Two incomplete passes and a sack from Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel, the Bills punted.
Miami ran seven plays on their next possession, with Brissett throwing passes on all seven. He found Gaskin for four yards, then Preston Williams for two, Parker for seven, and Cethan Carter for eight before three straight incomplete passes, including on 4th-and-2, leading to another turnover on downs.
Starting at the Miami 41-yard line, the Bills opened the drive with a pass to Beasley for six yards. Moss then picked up two yards, followed by a five-yard run. After an incomplete pass that Howard nearly picked off, Allen threw to Knox for nine yards. Reggie Gilliam was stopped for no gain on a 3rd-and-1 run, but the Bills converted the 4th-and-1 play on an Allen keeper. The quarter ended with the run.
- The Dolphins did not get the memo to put the first half behind them and come out differently in the second half.
- Oh it is pouring rain now.
- And now it stopped.
- The Dolphins just cannot get out of their own way.
- Wow Howard nearly had his second interception of the game. He just could not quite hold on to it.
After an incomplete pass, Allen shoveled the ball to Moss for two yards, with Ogbah called for unnecessary roughness on Allen, giving the Bills a free first down and the ball at the Miami seven. Moss ran for no gain on first down, then took a toss left for the seven-yard score. Bills 28-0.
Miami’s possession featured an incomplete pass and two sacks of Brissett. They punted on the three-and-out.
The Bills continued the rout of the Dolphins, starting with a 41-yard pass from Allen to Diggs. Allen then found Singletary for three yards before the running back carried it for another three years. Allen then scrambled for a four-yard gain before throwing an incomplete pass. Gilliam then picked up two yards before Allen appeared to run it in for the score, but replay showed his knee was down just prior to scoring. On the 1st-and-Goal play from the one-foot mark, Moss was met hard in the backfield by Elandon Roberts, but somehow Moss was able to get moving forward again and scored. Bills 35-0.
Miami clearly looked to kill the clock on their next drive, starting with two runs from Salvon Ahmed for three- and four-yards. Then Brissett found Wilson twice, once for four yards and once for five yards. Ahmed lost two yards on the next play, then a pass interference penalty gave Miami a first down. Brissett was injured on the play, with a flag thrown for roughing the passer but the penalty declined for the pass interference penalty, but he stayed in the game. Malcolm Brown then started running the ball, picking up six yards, one yard, 12 yards, and one yard to reach the two-minute warning. Brissett found Wilson for six yards after the break, then nearly had a pass intercepted but luckily had it fall to the ground. On 4th-and-3, Brissett avoided the pressure and found Ahmed wide open, but the running back dropped the ball.
Mitchell Trubisky came into the game at quarterback for the Bills, kneeling twice to end the game.
- That was a really light unnecessary roughness call.
- This game is like the 62-7 loss to the Jaguars - just everything has gone wrong for Miami. The sad part is, as Matt Millen said in the broadcast, there have been a lot of good things for the Dolphins in this game, but they just keep getting in their own way. Millen said the first rule of football is to not beat yourself. The Bills won this game, but the Dolphins definitely beat themselves too.