The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills are battling in the AFC East in a Week 15 primetime Saturday night game. The Bills lead the AFC East, while the Dolphins are two games back and looking to make up ground - and complete the season sweep of Buffalo. The game should be a fun one featuring two of the top offenses in the league, even without the potential snow that may show up during the game.
The Bills are currently the top seed in the AFC playoff picture. They could basically capture the AFC East with a win, having Miami three games back with three games to play. The Dolphins could pull within striking distance of Buffalo with a win, and just about seal a playoff berth for themselves.
How will Saturday night football play out? We keep up with all the action and the scoring here.
Dolphins 29 - 32 Bills
First Quarter Reactions
The Bills won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Miami’s offense the ball first. Running back Raheem Mostert returned the opening kickoff to the 36-yard line, giving Miami a good start to the game. He then carried the ball for 13 yards and four yards on the first two plays, but the drive stalled after that with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throwing an incomplete pass on second down. After a false start penalty on Miami, Tagovailoa threw away the pass with no one open and Miami was forced to punt.
The good from the first possession was Mostert getting chunks on the first two carries. The bad was the incomplete passes already starting for Miami. The offense has been completely out of rhythm for two weeks - maybe two and a half if you add int he second half against the Texans when Tagovailoa was pulled in a blowout. They have to fix this.
The Bills started at their own seven-yard line after a holding penalty on the punt. The began with quarterback Josh Allen finding tight end Dawson Knox for 11 yards, then finding wide receiver Stefon Diggs for 15 yards. After the two big gains to start, however, the drive stalled much like Miami’s opening drive. Allen threw incomplete on first down, then running back Devin Singletary picked up two yards. On 3rd-and-8, cornerback Niah Igbinoghene stuck in Diggs’ hip pocket and forced the incomplete pass, leading to a punt.
As much as Igbinoghene struggles sometimes, that was great coverage and worth pointing out. The defense looks like they are ready to play in this game. Now can the offense find itself?
Mostert started the drive again on the ground for the Dolphins, picking up nine yards on the first play. After no gain for Mostert on second down, fullback Alec Ingold picked up two yards and a first down for Miami. After a second false-start penalty by guard Robert Hunt, Tagovailoa dumped the ball into the flat for Mostert, who turned up field, made a great move, and picked up 20 yards and another first down. After an incomplete pass, Taovailoa four wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for a 15-yard gain. Tagovailoa then threw to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for five yards. An incomplete pass and a four-yard gain on a pass to Hill set up a 4th-and-inches play. Mostert picked up three yards on the play, then picked up four more on first down. Running back Salvon Ahmed picked dup five yards on the next play before Tagovailoa was sacked, fumbling the ball with tight end Durham Smythe recovering. The Dolphins settled for a 39-yard field goal from kicker Jason Sanders to take the lead. Dolphins 3-0.
Oh that last play almost gave me a heart attack. I am not sure if Tagovailoa was trying to pitch that ball at the last second to Smythe in hopes he could make a play, or if he was stripped as he was being sacked, but that nearly killed a good solid drive from the Dolphins. The running game is working. Now stick with it!
The Bills opened the possession with a three-yard run from Singletary, then decided it was time to start picking up big yards. Allen found Knox on a crossing route between the zones for the Dolphins defense, picking up 45 yards on the pass. Then Allen threw to Singletary in the flat, with the running back turning that into a 13 yard gain. Allen then looked to tight end Quintin Morris in the endzone for the score. Bills 7-3.
That was way too easy. The pass to Knox was well-designed and took advantage of Miami’s zone coverage. The defense needs to tighten up. They cannot bet on the offense keeping up in a shootout.
Miami started their drive at their own 25-yard line, but did not stay there long as Mostert took the handoff on first down and rand 68 yards to the Bills’ eight-yard line, then had four more yards tacked on for a horsecollar tackle. Mostert then picked up a yard as the first quarter ended.
Keep giving the ball to Mostert!
Second Quarter Reactions
Miami took two shots to the endzone after the break, with Tagovailoa putting a ball up to Hill that the receiver could not quite pull in and a low ball to wide receiver Trent Sherfield that the receiver could not secure. The Dolphins settled for a second field goal, this time from 21-yards out. Bills 7-6.
Field goals are not going to cut it, but both of those two passes could have been touchdowns. Tagovailoa seems to have worked out whatever happened out west the last two weeks. Now time to get into the endzone.
The Bills started the drive with a three-yard loss on a screen pass from Allen to Diggs. A one-yard gain on a pass to running back James Cook followed by a false start penalty worked Buffalo into a 3rd-and-17, only to have Allen find wide receiver Gabe Davis for a 21-yard gain and a first down. Wide receiver Cole Beasley then caught a pass for nine yards, followed by an eight-yard gain on the ground from Cook. Allen then found Diggs for 20 yards, then the quarterback ran for three yards. After a pass from Allen to Davis for six yards, Singletary picked up one yard. After an incomplete pass Allen found running back Nyheim Hines for the 10-yard touchdown. Bills 14-6.
Field goals are not going to cut it. The Bills are finding their rhythm. The Dolphins defense has to stop this.
Miami went back to what has been working to start the drive, with Mostert picking up six yards. After a Hill drop, Tagovailoa was able to find Waddle for a 32-yard gain. After another incomplete pass, with Tagovailoa and Waddle just off on their chemistry, Tagovailoa found tight end Mike Gesicki for five yards. On 3rd-and-5, after a timeout, Tagovailoa was able to find Hill for six yards and a first down. Mostert was tripped up as he hit the hole on the next play, picking up one yard on the run. Mostert ran into the back of Hunt on the next play, losing a yard and setting up a 3rd-and-10. Tagovailoa went back to Hill for 15 yards on the next play, giving the Dolphins a first down at the Bills’ 11-yard line. Ahmed took the handoff on the next play up the middle, bouncing off a tackle, and scoring for the Dolphins. Bills 14-13.
Salvon Ahmed caps the 10 play, 75-yard drive with his first touchdown of the year! pic.twitter.com/LqryjdTZ8S— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) December 18, 2022
There we go! The run game is working, so stick with it. Use the passing game to complement it and to pick up the needed yards when facing long-yardage situations. This is the offense the Dolphins need to have,
The Bills started their drive at their own 18-yard line after Hines slipped on the kick return. After an incomplete pass, Allen ran for nine yards before calling a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty. Allen picked up four yards on the next play as Knox pushed him forward on a quarterback sneak. The sneak led to the two-minute warning. Diggs picked up 13 yards as cornerback Xavien Howard played off coverage on the route. Knox then picked up nine yards before an Allen incomplete pass targeting a wide-open Knock on the next play. A Singletary run for three yards was followed by another incomplete pass targeting Knox, with cornerback Justin Bethel all over the tight end to force the pass breakup. Allen then found Singletary over the middle for six yards, setting up a 3rd-and-6 with the Bills in field-goal range. After a timeout, the Bills picked up 19 yards as Allen was flushed out of the pocket and somehow found wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie for the first down. An incomplete pass on the next play was negated as cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was called for holding. Defensive lineman Zach Sieler was called for offsides on the next play, leading to a 1st-and-5 from the Miami nine-yard line. After an incomplete pass, cornerback Xavien Howard was called for holding, leading to a 1st-and-Goal from the Miami four-yard line. After a Dolphins timeout, Allen was flushed from the pocket, but found Cook for the score. Bills 21-13.
The Dolphins defense is trying to make plays, but they are giving up big plays at the worst time. They are getting lured into penalties and they need to make an impact. They are making mistakes and the Bills are making them pay.
This is a difficult game. The Dolphins are doing somethings well, and then they are making a mistake and allowing a big gain or giving up yards on a penalty. The biggest issue may be the Bills having the chance to double-up with the score just before the half and getting the ball to start the second half. Miami’s defense cannot allow the Bills to put up a score to start the second half.
Tagovailoa has looked better than he did the last two weeks, but not yet up to what we saw from him over the last two weeks. Mostert is dominating this game, rushing 11 times for 108 yards. The Dolphins have to keep going to the running game to find success in this game.
Miami’s defense needs to step up and make a stop. Howard needs to make a play.
Safety Jevon Holland was taken to the locker room near the end of the first half. That is a big loss for Miami if he cannot return.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Bills started the half at their own 18-yard line after the kickoff. The Bills started the drive with a nine-yard pass from Allen to Singletary, only to see Zach Sieler blow up the second-down run for a three-yard loss and an incomplete pass end the drive. Buffalo punted on the three-and-out drive to start the half.
Good start for the defense. Buffalo could have doubled up on that drive, scoring on either side of the halftime break, and the defense shut that idea down. Now Miami’s offense needs up put up points and make this a game. It’s amazing how many big plays Sieler makes for a player no one knows.
The Dolphins drive started with a six-yard gain from Mostert. After an incomplete pass on second-down, Tagovailoa hit Waddle deep, with the receiver turning it into a 67-yard touchdown. Miami failed on the two-point conversion attempt. Bills 21-19.
There’s the explosive offense the Dolphins have had all year. And Waddle is getting involved. This is feeling more like what we saw all season before the west-coast road trip.
Buffalo started the drive with a 13-yard run from Allen, followed by a 21-yard pass from Allen to Knox. Cook picked up three yards, followed by a pass from Allen to Diggs for five yards. After a holding penalty and a false start penalty, Buffalo faced a 3rd-and-17, with the pass falling incomplete, with a holding penalty declined on the play. The Bills were forced to punt.
Miami’s defense is trying to exert its will on this game.
The Dolphins started at their own 11, picking up nine yards on a run from Ahmed, then backing that up with a six-yard gain on another Ahmed run. After an illegal contact penalty on the Bills moved Miami out to their 31-yard line, Ahmed picked up a yard. A seven-yard scramble from Tagovailoa, with the quarterback just missing breaking it for the first down when he stumbled, set up Miami on a 2nd-and-2. The ball was initially marked four-yard short, then moved just before the snap. Miami may have changed the play if they knew the real down-and-distance, but they ran the out route toward Waddle, with the pass falling incomplete. Miami punted, with punter Thomas Morstead rolling the ball perfectly down to the Bills two-yard line.
It was not the point-scoring drive Miami needed, but it did sitch the field position game and should allow the Dolphins defense to do its job.
The Bills started the drive with a Singletary run for one yard. An incomplete pass on second down set up a 3rd-and-9, with Allen looking to scramble on the play. Safety Jevon Holland, who had been out being evaluated for an injury, returned just in time to make the play, tackling Allen after just a one-yard gain and forcing the three-and-out punt.
Again, the defense seems to be doing enough to keep the Dolphins in the game. The offense needs to do something now.
Starting at the 50-yard line, Miami looked like they were in a good position to start the drive. After an incomplete pass on first down, Tagovailoa was sacked for a seven-yard loss on the second play. On third down, Tagovailoa found Hill for seven yards, but the Dolphins were forced to punt. On the kick, the Bills were called for roughing the kicker, giving Miami te ball back at the Bills’ 35-yard line and with a first down. Mostert sidestepped a tackle for a loss on the play, picking up four yards. After a timeout, Ahmed picked up 11 yards to give the Dolphins another first down. Tagovalioa then threw down the sideline to a streaking Hill for the score. Dolphins 26-21.
2a to for the lead!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) December 18, 2022
There we go. The roughing the punter penalty gave the Dolphins the ability to finally take the lead and get this game where they want it. Can the defense now stop the Bills?
Buffalo started with a pass from Allen to Knox for seven yards, followed by a Cook run for three yards. After an Allen throw away on first down, an incomplete pass on second down set up 3rd-and-10. Allen looked deep for Diggs as Howard fell, but the ball was overthrown and the Bills were forced to punt.
The defense did its job. They were lucky on the throw toward Diggs, which could have gone to the house if it were complete as Howard slipped, but it resulted in an incomplete pass and a punt.
Tagovailoa threw to Ingold on first down, picking up seven yards, then Mostert ran for no gain to take the clock down to the fourth quarter.
Miami is facing a 3rd-and-3 as the final period starts. Picking up this first down could be the key to finishing this game.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins got lucky on the third down play, with cornerback Taron Johnson undercutting the route by Hill, but not pulling in the interception. Miami punted.
Exclusive: Live look at...me. pic.twitter.com/XKezDPS8WY— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) December 18, 2022
Seriously, I may need a paper bag to not hyperventilate down the stretch.
On the first play of the drive, Allen dropped back to pass, but linebacker Jaelan Phillips came around from the backside and pulled down the strip sack, with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins recovering the fumble.
Wooooooo!!!!!!! That is what we needed to see!
Miami started with the ball at the Bills’ 47-yard line, with Mostert picking up 11 yards on the first play. He then ran again for six yards, followed by a Tagovailoa pass for three yards. After tight end Durham Smythe was stopped for a two-yard loss, Miami settled for a 47-yard Sanders field goal. Dolphins 29-21.
That is not the result hoped for off the turnover, but it is now an eight-point lead, so that is great for the Dolphins.
The Bills started the drive with a two-yard run from Allen, with another fumble, but this one was recovered by the Bills. Cook picked up 16 yards on the next play, then Allen ran for 44 yards. Allen picked up five yards on the next run, with an unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Elandon Roberts giving the Bills a first down. After an incomplete pass and an Allen run stopped for a one-yard loss, Allen found Knox for a five-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion attempt, Allen ran for it but forgot to hold on to the ball and the try was no good. Tied 29-29.
There we go! The defense was hurt by the cheap unnecessary roughness penalty, where Roberts was trying to hold up Allen, but the quarterback flopped for the call, but they held up on the two-point try and Miami now has the ball with the lead. Can the offense hold on to the ball and drain the clock?
Or not. The two-point try was given to the Bills after a replay. The snow is coming down hard now.
Tagovailoa started the Dolphins' drive with a pass to Hill for 13 yards. He then found wide receiver Cedrick Wilson for 21 yards. The drive stalled there, however, as Mostert picked up one yard, then Hill caught a screen pass for a loss of three yards. Tagovailoa looked to Waddle who was mugged on the route, but no penalty was called. Miami punted.
The referees have been questionable throughout the game - but that miss on Waddle was bad.
The Bills started at their own seven after Hines almost muffed the return. Allen found Davis for 14 yards on the first play. Allen was sacked by defensive lineman Zach Sieler on the next play, but Allen found David to pick back up most of the yardage. On 3rd-and-3, Allen connected with Diggs for six yards. Singletary then picked up two yards, then six yards, on back-to-back carries. Allen found McKenzie for five yards the next play before Singletary took it to the two-minute warning with an eight-yard run. After the break, Singletary picked up seven yards to get to the Miami 37-yard line. Singletary picked up another four yards on the next play. After a run-pass option attempt toward Diggs was tipped by safety Jevon Holland at the line of scrimmage, Allen looked deep toward McKenzie with cornerback Kader Kohou called for pass interference on the play. A run from Singletary picked up six yards, then Singletary picked up seven yards before giving himself up at the Miami four-yard line. The Dolphins used their final timeout after the play, with the Bills then kneeling to run the clock down for a final field goal attempt. Tyler Bass converted on the 25-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Bills 31-29.
That is really the only reaction that matters. The Dolphins were close all night long but just lost at the last second. There were some things they could have done better and some mistakes that hurt, but this team went toe to toe with the Bills twice, winning once and losing once. The season's net points were one point in favor of the Bills. These teams are close and, once the Dolphins make the post season, the hope is to get another shot at the Bills.