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The Good, Bad & Ugly from the Miami Dolphins Week 18 loss to the Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins lose AFC East race to Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Well, here we are again.

The Miami Dolphins completed yet another late season collapse by losing to the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium in Week 18 — and in the process, they handed the AFC East division crown and the opportunity to host a home playoff game to their hated rivals.

Blame it on injuries, blame it on poor coaching, blame it on poor play — hell, blame it on some sort of evil curse if you have to — but the fact of the matter remains that the Miami Dolphins fell short of their stated goal of winning the AFC East for the first time since the 2008 season.

This team wasn’t good enough on Sunday night. This team may not be good enough this upcoming Saturday. I’m sorry if that hurts. It hurts me too.

For whatever reason, we as fans continue to get our hopes up when the team starts hot with early season victories against inferior opponents, only to be let down time and time again during games against quality squads when the stakes are high and the outcome matters the most.

Sure, I know that the Dolphins have the opportunity to march into Kansas City and defeat the defending Super Bowl champions this weekend, but considering Miami holds a 1-5 record against winning teams this season, you’ll have to excuse me for having little faith in that actually happening.

Call it another lost season for this once proud franchise, because with every passing week, that’s exactly the end that the 2023 Miami Dolphins seem headed towards.

Let’s take a look back at the good, bad and ugly from Miami’s 21-14 defeat against the Buffalo Bills in Week 18.

GOOD

Miami’s opportunistic defense forces three Josh Allen turnovers

The Miami Dolphins defense played the ultimate “bend, but don’t break” style of game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

The Bills had 26 first downs, 128 yards rushing, 345 yards passing, 473 yards of total offense, and possessed the ball for just over 38 minutes of game time.

So, to say that Miami’s defense completely shut down Buffalo’s offense would be 100% false, however, they were able to force Josh Allen into throwing two interceptions and coughing up one fumble. They also kept Buffalo from scoring any points at the end of the first half due to a heroic tackling effort from linebacker Jerome Baker at the one yard line, and allowed Miami to attempt a game-tying drive late in the contest by holding the Bills short of the sticks on a 4th down quarterback sneak attempt.

In total, Miami’s defense gave up just 14 points — a number that should have allowed Miami to win the game if the Dolphins offense decided to play a full four quarters and not just the first 30 minutes of action.

BAD

Dolphins offense went missing in the second half of play

After a first half that saw the Miami Dolphins find the endzone twice — once on a long, nifty run by electric rookie running back De’Von Achane, and again on a short throw from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to speedster Tyreek Hill — Miami’s supposed Lamborghini of an offense blew out their transmission and was left rotting on the side of the highway for the final two quarters of action.

The Dolphins had five drives in the second half. Here’s how they went:

  • 3 plays for nine yards (PUNT)
  • 4 plays for 11 yards (PUNT)
  • 3 plays for 1 yard (PUNT)
  • 3 plays for 3 yards (PUNT)
  • 4 plays for 23 yards (INTERCEPTION)

The blame can be placed on everyone. From Mike McDaniel’s playcalling to Tua Tagovailoa’s poor decision making; from Tyreek Hill’s drops to the offensive line penalties... everybody who had a hand in Miami’s disgustingly bad second half offensive showing deserves loads and loads of criticism.

UGLY

96-yard punt return ties game in 4th quarter; defense suffers more injuries to EDGE rushers

Despite Miami’s offensive struggles in the second half of play, the Dolphins still held a 7 point fourth quarter lead against the Buffalo Bills.

That was until their special teams unit allowed a 96-yard punt return touchdown to Deonte Harty which knotted the game at 14-14 and breathed new life into a Bills team that desperately needed it in that moment.

To add injury to the insult suffered on that very play, Cameron Goode — a reserve EDGE rusher called into action due to the plethora of injuries the Dolphins have taken at that position — suffered a serious knee injury while colliding with teammate Alec Ingold during the return.

Goode’s injury came after fellow EDGE rusher Andrew Van Ginkel left the game due to a foot injury in the third quarter. The Dolphins are now down Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Andrew Van Ginkel and Cameron Goode in their outside linebacker room.

That’s not ideal.


They’ll obviously need to turn to some veteran free agents in advance of their playoff matchup in frigid Kansas City this upcoming Saturday night.

___

The Dolphins once again faltered down the stretch — losing three of their final five games and fumbling away the division crown to the Buffalo Bills who at one time this season were a mediocre 6-6. Despite the rampant, yet warranted, pessimism that is permeating Miami’s fanbase today, the Dolphins still have an opportunity to win their first playoff game since December 30th, 2000. Do you think they can make it happen? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13. Fins up!