Two things were made evident during the Dolphins’ 21-19 win over the Bills on Sunday. Buffalo’s offense is capable of being stopped, and Miami is a legitimate threat to make noise in the AFC playoffs under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel.
Miami pulled out the win after Melvin Ingram and Emmanuel Ogbah tackled Isaiah McKenzie in bounds on the game’s final play. The Bills then tried in vein to spike the ball before ultimately running out of time. Buffalo got the ball back after Thomas Morstead’s punt was deflected in the end zone after hitting the backside of teammate Trent Sherfield, resulting in a safety. The Dolphins’ defense then withstood the Bills on their final drive to move to 3-0 on the season. The Bills are now 2-1 after dropping their first game of the 2022 campaign.
Ahead 17-14, the Bills were unable to extend their lead after Tyler Bass missed a 38-yard field goal attempt a minute into the fourth quarter. Tua Tagovailoa hit Jaylen Waddle for gains of 32 and 45 yards (the second completion coming on a 3rd-and-22 play) to set up Chase Edmonds’ game-winning score. Miami’s defense then forced a turnover on downs late in the game before Buffalo’s offense ran out of time on its final drive.
The teams played to a 14-14 tie after one half. It was a big first half for Bills quarterback Josh Allen. He went a perfect 6 of 6 on Buffalo’s first drive that included his two-yard touchdown pass to Devin Singletary on fourth-and-goal. Allen’s second touchdown pass of the half — an eight-yard touchdown pass to McKenzie — gave Buffalo a 14-7 lead three minutes into the second quarter. Allen finished the game with 400 yards on 42 of 63 passing. He was sacked four times while enduring several big hits throughout the corse of the game.
Miami’s defense set up the Dolphins’ first score when Ingram scooped up Jevon Holland’s strip-sack of Allen. Edmonds tied the score with a one-yard touchdown run four plays later. Miami drove 83 yards on nine plays on its ensuing drive that was punctuated by Tagovailoa’s 11-yard, game-tying strike to River Cracraft. The Bills scored the only points of the third quarter on Bass’ 30-yard field goal to cap off a 20-play, 87-yard drive. The Dolphins countered with Edmunds’ game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
Tagovailoa left the game near the end of the first half when he was hit by Bills linebacker Matt Milano and landed on his back, but returned at the start of the second half.
Here’s a closer look at what transpired in Miami.
Why the Dolphins won
The Dolphins’ defense came up with several big second half stops while holding Buffalo’s offense to just three points during the game’s final 30 minutes. Ingram recorded two sacks along with his fumble recovery. Holland added 1.5 sacks to the cause that included his strip-sack that led to Miami’s first touchdown.
On offense, Tagovailoa continued to strengthen his rapport with Waddle, who went over 100 yards receiving for the second time in as many games. While he didn’t light up the scoreboard, Tagovailoa took care of the ball while completing 13 of his 18 passes. Miami struggled to run the ball, however, as they finished with just 41 yards on 17 carries.
Why the Bills lost
Buffalo’s defense played relatively well, especially given the fact that they were without safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. But their lack of depth in the secondary reared its ugly head on Miami’s two big completions from Tua to Waddle on Miami’s game-winning drive. Buffalo’s defense did not receive much help from an offense that was just 2 of 4 in the red zone. The Bills lost despite piling up 31 first downs and piling up 497 total yards to Miami’s 212.
The Bills were in control of the game as the fourth quarter started. But a missed field goal by Tyler Bass appeared to give the Dolphins life. One play after the miss, Tagovailoa hit Waddle downfield for 32 yards. He then hit Waddle for 45 yards to set up Edmunds’ score.
Play of the game
While it was more of a mistake on McKenzie’s part, kudos to Ingram and Ogbah for tackling the Bills’ wideout in bounds while preserving the win.
“I’m doing good. We’ll go get those checked, but for the most part, it feels good, especially after a win.” — Tagovailoa to CBS Sports after the game when asked about his head and lower back. Tagovailoa missed the end of the first half after taking a late hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano.
Miami has a short week before traveling to Cincinnati take on the Bengals. The Bengals got their first win of the season Sunday after defeating the Jets in New York. Buffalo will head to Baltimore next Sunday to face the Ravens in a rematch of the Bills’ 17-3 win over Baltimore in the divisional round of the 2020 playoffs. Baltimore improved to 2-1 on Sunday after defeating the Patriots in Foxboro.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism