The Buffalo Bills reminded the NFL they are the defending AFC East champions on Sunday when they smacked the Miami Dolphins in the mouth and never gave the Dolphins a chance to respond. The Dolphins were taken out of rhythm and looked totally different from the team that put up 70 points on the Denver Broncos a week before. It was a complete dismantling by the Bills all game long.
The game was ugly from a Dolphins fan perspective. Every time the Dolphins did find any sense of positive momentum, they would make an unforced error and undo everything. Whether it was a fumble, an interception, or a penalty, Miami spent the day tripping over themselves almost as much as they tripped over the Bills.
Buffalo imposed their will on the Dolphins and Miami could do nothing to stop it.
Here are our immediate reactions from just an ugly day for the Dolphins.
Dolphins 20 - 48 Bills
Immediate Post-Game Reactions
Everything amazing Miami did in Week 3 to dominate the Broncos, they did the opposite on Sunday against the Bills. Sacks, interceptions, fumbles, penalties, it all went wrong for Miami. They had no answer for the onslaught from Josh Allen and the BIlls’ offense, as well as the pressure and confusion created by the Buffalo defense.
The Dolphins got smacked today, with the Bills looking to make a statement. Buffalo succeeded in making that statement and Miami now heads back to South Florida looking for answers. Buffalo’s domination of the Dolphins, especially in Buffalo, continues and it does not appear there is any easy answer right now.
This was a pure butt-kicking by the Bills, and Miami could not make any adjustments that worked. We will have more on this game throughout the week, but right now, it is time to lick our wounds and try to figure out what just happened.
First Quarter Reactions
The Bills started the game with the ball at their own 25-yard line after a touchback on the kick from Miami. Buffalo began the game with running back James Cook picking up eight yards, then continued to look to the ground game to keep Miami’s defense off balance. An unnecessary roughness penalty on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs added 15 more yards and set up the Bills in the redzone. Allen then threw to wide receiver Gabe Davis down the sideline for the touchdown and an early lead. Bills 7-0.
The Bills clearly came out looking to establish the run and keep some of the pressure off of Allen. An eight-play, 75-yard drive featured four runs and four passes, with Allen connecting on all four attempts. The Dolphins defense cannot allow the Bills to dink and dunk early because they will take the big play after lulling the defense to sleep.
Miami started the drive with two passes from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to tight end Durham Smythe, picking up 30 yards on the passes. Miami then started getting the rest of the offensive weapons involved in the game, with running back Raheem Mostert carrying the ball for two yards, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle making a tip-drill catch for 11 yards, wide receiver Tyreek Hill picking up 19 yards on a reception, running back De’Von Achane catching a pass for seven yards. Then Achane punched it in from three-yard out for the score. Tied 7-7.
This might just be the track meet everyone expected. The Dolphins went 77 yards in seven plays to tie this up and got everyone involved. If Miami can keep this up on offense, this will be another fun game.
The Bills came back with the running game leading the way. Cook and Latavius Murray combined for 45 yards on five carries as Buffalo continued to attack the middle of the Miami defense. Allen was able to throw for 35 yards on the drive, using the threat of the run - including an Allen scramble for three yards - to open up the passing game. Bills 14-7.
Miami cannot afford to let the Bills run the ball like this. They are simply smacking the Dolphins’ defense in the mouth right now, and the Dolphins are not responding. Miami’s offense can keep them in the game, but the defense needs to find a way to stop the run. Of course, if they sell out to stop Cook and Murray, Allen will use the single-coverage on Diggs and Davis to carve up the deep part of the field. It is a pick-your-poison type of situation, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has to make some adjustment.
The Dolphins ended the first quarter with a 20-yard pass to Hill and a one-yard run from Mostert.
The first quarter is the offensive shootout expected. Miami’s defense needs to adjust, but the offense seems like it is in rhythm and ready to keep the pressure on Buffalo.
Second Quarter Reactions
Mostert opened the second period with a highlight catch over two defenders, somehow skying to grab the ball and keep Miami moving down the field. The next play featured the first incomplete pass of the game - by either team - with Hill making the catch, but the defense able to shove him out of bounds before he was able to get both feet back down. A couple of plays later, Miami face a 3rd-and-8, but Tagovailoa was able to rifle the ball to wide receiver Braxton Berrios for 15 yards and a first down. From the 10-yard line, Tagovailoa handed the ball to Achane who found the endzone for the second time on the day. Tied 14-14.
This really is going to be a track meet all day long. The touchdown run, with Achane lined up at receiver and Hill lined up at running back was a wrinkle Miami added to the offense. This game feels like one that will come down to who has the ball last.
The Bills took to the air for the drive, starting with Allen throwing to Diggs on first down for 16 yards, then deep to Diggs with a pass interference call handing Buffalo 43 free yards. The Bills were then able to move down to the Dolphins’ six-yard line and appeared to score on a run, but an illegal formation penalty backed them to the Dolphins’ 11-yard line. Allen then found Diggs at the goal line for the score and Buffalo reclaimed the lead. Bills 21-14.
Seriously, this is simply a shootout. Five minutes into the second quarter and both teams have had one incomplete pass.
Miami could not get out of their own way on the next possession, starting the drive with an illegal formation, then on 3rd-and-12 getting flagged for a false start penalty. On 3rd-and-17, Mostert took a five-yard screen pass, then fumbled the ball. Luckily, Berrios recovered, and Miami punted on the three-and-out possession.
The Bills defense was able to make a stop. Miami’s defense needs to do the same or Buffalo will start extending the lead and making it impossible to come back. Need something to happen here.
The drive started with a 22-yard pass from Allen to Murray down the left sideline, but then a three-yard loss from Cook as defensive tackle Zach Sieler burst through the line for the run stuff set the Bills back. An eight-yard pass from Allen to Diggs was backed up by a batted pass at the line of scrimmage and the Bills were forced to punt.
The defense finally had an answer, but the punt was downed at the six-yard line. Miami’s offense needs to get out of the shadow of the endzone.
Achane picked up three yards on first down, then took a pass for five yards on send down. On 3rd-and-2, Tagovailoa was unable to connect with Mostert and Miami punted again.
Three straight punts from these two teams and a second-straight three-and-out for Miami. This is not what Miami needs to be doing right now and they are not going to keep up with the Bills playing like this. And now add in the concern of left tackle Terron Armstead being injured and heading straight into the locker room and this could get ugly fast.
The Bills immediately take advantage of the situation. After a four-yard run from Cook, Allen threw short to Diggs who broke a tackle from Kohou and scored on a 55-yard catch and run. Bills 28-14.
Why are the Dolphins single-covering Diggs with Kohou?
Tagovailoa threw to Mostert for nine yards on the first play, but an incomplete pass on second down set up a third down attempt. Mostert took the pitch, was stopped two yards behind the line of scrimmage, then lost the ball with the Bills recovering.
Miami is simply imploding right now. That third down run was slow developing and gave the Bills plenty of time to chase after Mostert. That is the second fumble by the running back today. Nothing seems to be working right, and the Bills are doing a great job of keeping Miami off balance on both sides of the ball.
Miami stuffed Cook in the backfield for a one-yard loss as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was then able to get to Allen and get the sac. After a Miami timeout, the Bills took a shot down the field, but the ball fell incomplete. The Bills settled for a 53-yard field goal from Tyler Bass. Bills 31-14.
Holding the Bills to a field goal after they started at the Miami 31-yard line is a positive, but the Dolphins are in trouble right now. They have to get Hill and Waddle going if they are going to come back in this game.
Miami started the drive with Tagovailoa being sacked. Two passes that picked up 10 yards left the Dolphins facing a 4th-and-4, leading to another three-and-out punt.
Completely out of sorts right now.
The Bills knelt to end the half.
This started as the advertised shootout. Then, the Bills decided they wanted to make it one-sided. Miami has no response for anything Buffalo is doing on offense or defense right now. This feels like the San Francisco 49ers game last year that just ended the positive start to the year for Miami.
Miami has 20 rushing yards and averages less than three yards per carry - a week after rushing for 350 yards.
A lot needs to change at halftime. Can the Dolphins get things re-started when they get the ball to open the second half?
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami opened the half with the ball and a desperate need to find some rhythm. The first play looked much like the first half, with the ball batted down at the line of scrimmage and the Dolphins going nowhere. A seven-yard pass followed by a Tagovailoa scramble for three yards converted the first down and gave Miami some momentum. Miami continued to move the ball, turning to Achane for the ground game and Hill and Waddle through the air, eventually moving down to the Bills’ 11-yard line before Tagovailoa found Berrios in the endzone for the score. Miami failed to convert on the 2-point try. Bills 31-20.
Okay, the Dolphins offense started working again because they started going to their main playmakers. Can the defense stop the Bills now to get Miami back into the game?
A five-yard run from Cook and a six-yard catch from tight end Dalton Kincaid was followed by Allen being pressured and needing to throw the ball away, only to find a wide open Cook down the sideline and a 48-yard gain. After a four-yard run and a seven-yard sack, with Van Ginkel recording his second of the game, Allen ran for four yards and set up a Bass field goal. Bills 34-20.
What is happening? Even when Miami appears set to make a big play, it somehow turns into a 48-yard gain for Buffalo. The defense needs to figure this out, right now. At least they held them to a field goal.
The first play of Miami’s drive featured a low snap that Tagovailoa had to pick up and then throw away as he was nearly sacked. The second play featured Tagovailoa throwing too high for wide receiver Robbie Chosen and safety Micah Hyde intercepted the ball.
Nope. Nothing at all good on that drive. The Bills can essentially end this game right here.
Starting at the Dolphins’ 25 yard line, the Bills backed up four yards on a run stuff from Van Ginkel. Allen then took to the air connecting on passes of nine yards, seven yards, and 13 yards, with Diggs catching the last pass for the score - his third touchdown reception of the game. Bills 41-20.
Miami came out of halftime looking like they were in rhythm and scoring a touchdown. Six minutes later and they are down 21 points. This is ugly. Miami cannot stop the Bills and needs help figuring out their offense right now too.
The Dolphins’ drive started at their own 25 with a 19-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill. Mostert then ran for six yards, followed by a two-yard loss on a run. Tagovailoa then threw to Berrios who dove for the sticks, but was ruled just short - a ruling that stood when challenged by the Dolphins. On 4th-and-1, Tagovailoa looked toward Hill but was sacked before he could throw the ball and Miami turned it over on downs.
Why another slow-developing play on fourth down?
The third quarter ended as Allen found Davis alone down the field for a 34-yard gain.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
Allen then ran it in for an 11-yard touchdown on a designed run. Bills 48-20.
Way too easy. Miami has no answer for anything. The Bills are trying to make a statement following Miami’s 70-point performance last week. They are taking it to Miami and they are making sure the Dolphins leave Buffalo knowing this is still the Bills’ division.
Achane picked up 55 yards on the first down play for the Dolphins, finally getting the team moving again. He then came back with an eight-yard gain on the next play. In the redzone, Mostert took the carry up the middle of four yards and a first down. Tagovailoa then found Waddle for the touchdown, but an ineligible man downfield penalty backed the Dolphins up. Miami completed a seven-yard pass before an incompletion set up 3rd-and-Goal from the six-yard line. Another incomplete pass as Tagovailoa targeted Achane in the endzone led to a Miami fourth-down attempt. The drive ended with a sack of Tagovailoa.
Will that Achane run prove to be anything of a spark for the Dolphins?
Guess it will not. Miami got close and even got into the endzone, but once again, they cannot get out of their own way, making it even easier for the Bills to continue to dominate them.
The Bills went three-and-out on the next drive, giving Miami back the ball after the punt.
Celebrating the three-and-out is not even worth it. The Bills are taking their foot off the gas pedal and Miami is barely keeping up at this point.
Miami looked to move down the field, starting with a 17 yard pass to Waddle, then an 11 yard run from Berrios. Tagovailoa then found fullback Alec Ingold on a wheel route for 23 yards. A delay of game penalty backed up Miami, with a sack two plays later adding to the problem. On 3rd-and-17, a holding penalty backed up Miami even more, leading to a 4th-and-23 play a couple of snaps later. A defensive offsides penalty moved Miami forward five yards, but a 16-yard pas to Cedrick Wilson was not enough to convert and Miami turned over the ball on downs.
At this point, it is just window dressing. Hill and Waddle are not even in the game.
The Bills ran the ball four times to get the clock down to the two-minute warning, then knelt three times to end the game.