The Miami Dolphins are 3-0 and in first place in the AFC East after beating the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. The win ends a seven-game losing streak to the Bills for the Dolphins, keeps Miami rolling on the season, and has them upset the Super Bowl favorites. It was a solid performance all over the roster for the Dolphins, with players stepping up as injuries occurred and the team worked their way from behind back into the lead.
Miami is now the only undefeated team in the AFC. They have come back from fourth-quarter deficits in two straight weeks. And they have beaten two straight teams who were favored over them. The Dolphins are in the national conversation, no matter what anyone else wants to say.
Bills 19 - Dolphins 21
First Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins won the toss, but deferred to the second half, giving the Bills the ball to open the game. It is a bold move to put the Bills offense on the field to start the game, but it sticks to what the Dolphins have been doing all year. It almost paid off on the first play as Stefon Diggs appeared to fumble on a 28-yard gain, but Xavien Howard touched Diggs’ knee as the receiver was catching the pass and the referees ruled he was down by contact. After the near turnover, Buffalo’s offense looked like Buffalo’s offense, quickly marching down the field and into the redzone. Allen found running back Devin Singletary on the second play of the drive, picking up 19 yards. Miami seemed to have the Bills in a 3rd-and-2 a few plays later, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Howard, who finished the tackle on Diggs after the whistle was blown, gave Buffalo a 1st-and-Goal from the Miami four-yard line. A fumble by Allen on the snap, followed by a four-yard gain set up 3rd-and-Goal from the Miami one. The Dolphins got pressure on Allen and Melvin Ingram cleaned it up for the sack, but on fourth down, Allen found Singletary for the two-yard touchdown. Bills 7-0.
The Dolphins asked for this. They put the Bills offense on the field first. Now they have to respond.
After a 10-play drive that covered 75 yards by the Bills, Miami could only muster 13 yards on five plays - and it should not have even been that far given they received a first down on a defensive holding penalty. After a penalty on the first play when everyone started the play, but center Connor Williams did not snap the ball, Miami was playing from behind the sticks at the start. They appeared to have a well-designed play on a wheel route from Alec Ingold, but the usually sure-handed fullback dropped the ball as he felt the approaching defenders. Miami punted after essentially doing nothing. Punter Thomas Morstead kicked the ball 59 yards, with Buffalo starting at their own 12-yard line after the punt.
That is not the response the Dolphins needed. The false start and the drop from Ingold ensured Miami could not find a rhythm.
After the put, the Bills started with two runs from Zack Moss, each picking up a yard. On 3rd-and-8, Allen was sacked by safety Jevon Holland, who stripped the quarterback and Ingram recovered the loose ball to set up Miami at the Bills’ six-yard line.
Holland is a beast and is going to be recognized as one of the league’s top safeties soon. Ingram has two big moments already in this game.
After a five-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Trent Sherfield came up just shy of the goal line, Tagovailoa tried a quarterback sneak for no gain but an offsides penalty on Buffalo negated the play. Ingold was then stopped on a run up the middle. On 3rd-and-Goal, Chase Edmonds scored his first touchdown as a Dolphins player to tied up the score. Tied 7-7.
It is not a sustained drive, but if the defense can set up the offense for a short possession leading to a touchdown, there is nothing wrong with that. Tied up is tied up.
Starting at their own 25-yard line after the kickoff, Buffalo again turned to Allen to start moving the ball. On the first five plays of the drive, Allen threw for seven yards, eight yards, eight yards, four yards, and ten yards. Singletary then ran for a yard before an incomplete pass from Allen. On 3rd-and-9 at the Miami 37-yard line, Allen threw an outlet pass to Singletary, who turned it into a seven-yard gain as the first quarter ended.
Tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter is a good start to the game for the Dolphins. The defense has made some plays, but the Bills offense is so strong they are still able to claw their way through the good plays from Miami’s defense. The Dolphins offense has not really had a chance to prove anything at this point.
Second Quarter Reactions
After the break, Allen picked up three yards on a scramble, then Ingram pulled him down for a sack, with Allen again fumbling but the Bills falling on the loose ball. Facing a 2nd-and-19, Allen simply looked deep for Isaiah McKenzie for a 27-yard gain and a 1st-and-Goal from the Dolphins’ nine-yard line. Three plays later, Allen went back to McKenzie for the eight-yard touchdown. Bills 14-7.
The Dolphins are again down. The offense has to prove they can move the ball on the Bills’ defense with this possession. The entire Bills secondary is backup players, so Tagovailoa needs to start picking them apart.
Miami started the drive at their own 17-yard line, but they quickly started moving the ball. After a Raheem Mostert run for four yards, Tagovailoa threw passes of 11 yards, 13 yards, 17 yards, and six yards, finding Tyreek Hill, Durham Smythe, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki on the plays. Another run from Mostert for nine yards was backed up by a nine-yard run on an end around from Waddle. Mostert then picked up three yards before Tagovailoa threw a bullet to River Cracraft for the score. Tied 14-14.
The Dolphins offense needed that drive. After the unsuccessful first possession, the second possession was good but the field position make is a short drive for the touchdown. Now they have actually sustained a drive against the Bills defense and shown they can keep up. Time for the defense to make a stand.
River Cracraft is on his third and final elevation for the year from the practice squad. The Dolphins now have to find a way to promote him to the 53-man roster.
Allen started the Bills’ possession with an eight-yard pass to Gabe Davis, then backed it up with a 10-yard pass to Diggs. Allen continued to throw the ball with back-to-back six-yard gains, one to Singletary and one to McKenzie. After two incomplete passes and a timeout, Allen again looked to pass but was flushed from the pocket by a near-sack from Emmanuel Ogbah, rolled to his right, then threw back across the field toward Diggs. Xavien Howard knocked away the pass and the Bills were forced to punt.
A good defensive stand. That third-down play was on a 3rd-and-10, the first time the Bills have faced a 3rd-and-10 play this year. Now, the Dolphins need to put together a 3:55 drive to score, then get the ball back to start the second half.
Edmonds started the drive with a six-yard run, then a one-yard rush. Things began to change for Miami on the second down play. Guard Robert Hunt was injured on the play, with Robert Jones coming in to replace him. On 3rd-and-3, Tagovailoa was pressured back before throwing an eight-yard pass to Waddle; Tagovailoa was shoved to the ground after the play by Buffalo linebacker Matt Milano, who was flagged for roughing the passer. As Tagovailoa fell, his head bounced off the turf and he was clearly unsteady on his feet as he tried to get up. The trainers took him immediately to the locker room and Teddy Bridgewater was brought in to replace him. After the two-minute warning, Little was injured on the play as Bridgewater threw an incomplete pass. Bridgewater was then sacked and threw an incomplete pass to lead to a punt from Morstead.
Everything is different now. What has felt like to offenses poised to shoot it out now feels like Miami has to hold on, hope their defense can make some plays, and get lucky. Tagovailoa clearly sustained a head injury and there is little chance he will be cleared to come back into this game. When a player is that unsteady on their feet, it is a scary sight.
With 1:38 on the clock, the Bills looked to steal a quick score at the end of the half. Allen was able to pass for six yards, nine yards, and six yards before throwing an incomplete pass deep. Another couple of passes for eight yards and seven yards, with a clock-stopping spike in between, set up the Bills seemingly in field goal range. Looking to spike the ball one more time for the kick attempt, a bad snap led to a pass from Allen to Diggs for nine yards, but the clock ran out and the teams headed into the halftime break tied at 14.
The Dolphins defense is getting after Allen, but if they do not get to him he is carving them up right now. There is a reason why the Bills are first or second in every category on offense so far this year. The defense is going to be even more important in the second half with the injury to Tagovailoa. They have to perform.
That was a scary injury to Tagovailoa. It was not as nasty as seeing something like Alex Smith’s leg injury, but it was just as scary after the impact. A head bouncing off the turf like that, then the player getting up and not being able to find his balance shows the brain clearly is not working right. That is a scary injury. Hopefully he is able to recover quickly, not for the Dolphins but because any head injury that includes legs as wobbly as that does not seem right.
Third Quarter Reactions
Or not. Tagovailoa is back out and in the game for the Dolphins to start the second half. On the first play, he found Hill deep over the middle for a 22-yard gain. Little was injured again on the play, with Miami having to mix-and-match the offensive line as players keep getting injured. Robert Hunt has now moved out to right tackle with Robert Jones in his place at right guard. And the Bills defense smells the blood in the water. They overwhelm the line on the next play, stopping Mostert for a six-yard loss. Tagovailoa then threw incomplete to Waddle and a Tagovailoa pass to Smythe for a five-yard gain and the Dolphins had to punt.
No idea how Tagovailoa is back in this game. His stumbling around after his head hit the ground appeared that he was severely concussed. But, here we go.
The Bills took possession at their two-yard line after a great play by Justin Bethel to bat the punt back out of the endzone and let Miami down it. Allen and the Bills' offense turned from a high-explosive offensive into a methodical, ball-control offense. After 20 plays for 87 yards over 9:22, the Bills settled for a field goal. Bills 17-14.
The Dolphins defense went back into bend-don’t-break mode, keeping the Bills to just 4.4 yards per play. Unfortunately, it still resulted in the Bills taking the lead.
Miami responded to the scoring drive by the Bills with a three-and-out.
That is not going to get it done. Miami’s offense is out of sync right now. Is it Tagovailoa’s head? The injuries to the offensive line? Whatever it is, this is not going well for the Dolphins.
Zack Moss started the Bills possession with a 43-yard run, with Miami simply being beaten on the play. Allen then scrambled for 11 yards followed by a Moss one-yard gain to end the quarter.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
Allen started the final period with an incomplete pass before finding Knox for five yards on a 3rd-and-9. Buffalo settled for the 38-yard field goal attempt, but the ball sailed wide left and the Dolphins escaped without giving up a score.
The bend-don’t-break continues, and Miami is still down by just three.
Miami found their rhythm again on the next possession. Tagovailoa threw deep to Waddle for 32 yards, moving the ball into Bills territory on the first play. After a seven-yard loss on a sack and a Mostert run for no gain, Tagovailoa again looked to Waddle, finding him own at the Buffalo seven-yard line for a 45-yard gain. Mostert ran for two yards before an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Bills gave the Dolphins a 1st-and-Goal from the three-yard line. Edmonds then ran for the score. Dolphins 21-17.
The Bills trail for the first time this season. Miami is leading in the fourth quarter against Buffalo. Things are happening. There is still a lot of time remaining, but things are happening.
Buffalo again went into ball control mode for the next possession. They ate up over eight minutes on the clock, moving all the way to the Miami one-yard line. Two incomplete passes on third- and fourth-downs, including a pass break up from Xavien Howard and an inexplicable bounced pass from Allen, led to a turnover on downs.
The Dolphins need a first down. They are in the shadow of the goalposts, so they have to be smart, but a first down ends this game.
A loss of one, a quarterback sneak for no gain, and an incomplete pass led to a three-and-out. Morstead punted the ball into Trent Sherfield’s backside and the ball bounced out of the back of the endzone for a safety. Dolphins 21-19.
The safety is not really a major thing. The free kick punt can push the Bills back and keep them from reaching scoring range. It is going to be on the defense now.
With 1:33 to play, the Bills offense started at their own 23-yard line. Allen came out throwing, looking to get the team quickly down to field goal range with no remaining timeouts. After an incomplete pass, he found Davis over the middle for 18 yards. Another incomplete pass was followed by a nine-yard gain on a throw to Crowder, moving Buffalo out to midfield. Allen then threw to Morris for seven yards, followed by an incomplete pass. After a holding penalty on the Bills backed them up to their own 47-yard line, Allen looked to McKenzie for 12 yards, but he was tackled in bounds and the clock ran out.
While the party is on in Miami, who became the only undefeated team in the AFC with the win, this says everything you need to know about how things went in this game: