Overall Game Grade — B+
I really don’t know what to make of Miami’s defensive performance. They allowed the Bills to gain 281 yards against them, but only score 12 points. Most of Buffalo’s yardage however came in the first half, as in the second half they calmed down and actually shut out the Bills.
They didn’t allow an offensive touchdown, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Defensive penalties by the secondary killed them, or so one would think, when in reality Buffalo just settled for field goal.
They also got Miami the ball back with 1:24 left down by only five.
Their performance wasn’t as bad as it looked in the beginning, and in fact was actually quite good. I can’t complain about anything but Nolan Carroll (wait until I get to him), as this defense stepped up.
Fourth Quarter — A
The Dolphins defense would start the quarter with a continuation of Buffalo’s last drive of the third quarter, and force the Bills to punt on that drive.
Their next drive would come with Miami now down only five. The goal here is to keep playing the defense that they played in the third quarter, and prevent Buffalo from scoring.
But it doesn’t start out well, with Buffalo getting a five-yard run from C.J. Spiller, followed by a 13-yard pass to Stevie Johnson. But after those two hiccups, it looked like Miami’s defense would settle down before another stupid penalty by Nolan Carroll.
I thought he was benched, seriously.
After Buffalo got the automatic first down, Miami would do something they’ve failed to do all afternoon: bottle up C.J. Spiller. Well, they were able to do this for one play, make that two. Now Buffalo would face a third-and-12, the biggest play of the game. Would the Dolphins defense produce, or would Buffalo convert? How is Nolan Carroll going to screw this up?
He’s not. Miami would force Buffalo to punt, and would give their offense another shot.
On the next defensive drive, with Buffalo attempting to kill the clock, Miami was able to get Buffalo to go three-and-out, getting Miami the ball back with 1:24 left in the game.
Third Quarter — A
Reshard Jones is the only player on the secondary playing well. Other than that an offense based off of a shifty running back and screen passes is beating this defense. However one spot that gave Buffalo a first down was a bit questionable, but I’ll let this slide since the Dolphins defense is doing their best to let the country know that they’re a fraudulent bunch.
Actually here’s a good question: where’s Olivier Vernon? Are they really insisting that he’s only special teams material when he can tackle better than most of the players on the Dolphins front seven? Wouldn’t he be an upgrade over Jared Odrick (who’s missing tackles like they’re going out of style)?
Despite the bad start with C.J. Spiller again carving up the Dolphins defense like Thanksgiving turkey, Miami still forced the Bills to punt on their first drive of the half. As much as I’ve ragged on this defense, if they had a competent offense, they’d actually be somewhat decent since they wouldn’t be on the field as long, and they have only allowed the Bills’ offense to score 12 points.
The next drive starts off with what looks like a sack, but then Ryan Fitzpatrick decides to go all Vick. Seriously, how is this possible? Fitzpatrick makes Drew Bledsoe look like Usain Bolt, yet is making the Dolphins defense look like a Pop Warner team!
Of course after I type that, Miami forces another punt thanks to a Cameron Wake sack. Good to see someone other than Reshad Jones showed up to play on defense.
Miami would wind up not giving up a single point in the third quarter, yet still giving up a lot of yards. They do look like they’re getting their swagger back though.
Second Quarter — D-
I’m going to make this first sentence short and sweet: Nolan Carroll committing a pass interference on an overthrown pass on third-and-five. Yikes!
It gets worse: second-and-10, the Miami Dolphins make Ryan Fitzpatrick, under a heavy pass rush mind you, look like Michael Vick pre-2012. Buffalo deserves to score points on this drive, something that Nolan Carroll guaranteed with another stupid pass interference penalty, this time it put the Bills at the Miami 24-yard line. Do I have to tell you how this drive would end, or can you just assume it was a touchdown?
It was a stop, which meant another Rian Lindell field goal. This time Buffalo would be backed up by their own silliness, in the form of a false start penalty, which backed Lindell back to a 42-yard field goal. Lindell would make it, and Miami would now face a nine-point deficit.
Back to work a few minutes later, the Dolphins defense is now showing problems not only tackling, but containing Buffalo’s screen passes. It’s gotten to the point where everyone in the world knows the Bills are going to call for a screen pass except for the Dolphins.
Later in the drive, Nolan Carroll got called for another penalty, this time illegal contact. This is embarrassing. However I will say this: that call did look a bit bogus. Either way, once again I ask Joe Philbin to be consistent and bench Nolan Carroll, as two of his pass interference penalties did lead to points for the Bills.
The Bills wound up unable to convert on the next series of downs, and I have to give credit to this defense, which has given up a ton of yards, yet only had nine points scored against them.
But even that can’t last forever, as the Dolphins would get one more crack on defense. C.J. Spiller would continue carving apart the Miami defense (he has 97 yards from scrimmage), and the Bills would again get deep inside the red zone. This time it looked like Jimmy Wilson would pull down an interception, but apparently he learned how to catch from the Sean Smith school of pass-catching.
The next play would be a pass interference, this time against Sean Smith. Again, this was on third down. Again, it wasn’t going to be caught. But this time, Miami would get another stop, forcing Buffalo to kick another field goal.
First Quarter — B
As the defense finally came onto the field after two Dolphins offensive possessions, I wondered aloud if this unit would be as discombobulated as the offense and special teams.
Despite a slow start with C.J. Spiller gaining nine yards on two carries in the first series, Miami was able to hold the Bills back on third-and-one, forcing a Buffalo three-and-out.
What a sigh of relief it was to see that. Sure the Bills really screwed up by calling a wildcat play for Tashard Choice, but on third-and-one a wildcat play makes some sense (the “quarterback” is basically running the ball the second it’s snapped to him), and Miami snuffed it out well.
Forgive me if I analyzed that play too much, I’m looking for something positive to write at this juncture.
Miami’s next defensive drive would start at the Buffalo 48-yard line. After C.J. Spiller is again able to gain positive yardage, Miami was able to force an incompletion, then after a Buffalo false start penalty, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to find Stevie Johnson for 15-yards despite a heavy Miami pass rush, followed by another 16-yard reception for Johnson.
Two plays after that, with Buffalo in the red zone, the Bills would face third-and-three. But as Fitzpatrick attempted to pass it to Donald Jones in the end zone, Jimmy Wilson broke the pass up, forcing Buffalo to attempt a field goal. Technically, I’d consider that a win for the Dolphins defense considering the field position given.
Miami would be on defense one more time thanks to Marcus Thigpen’s kickoff return following the field goal, and this drive would start off with C.J. Spiller running off a three-yard run, followed by a 24-yard pass.
This would again help the Bills get back into the red zone. However once again the Bills would outsmart themselves and attempt a pass on third-and-one. The pass would be broken up by Karlos Dansby (who should’ve had the interception and would’ve had six had he been able to hold onto it), and Buffalo was forced to kick the field goal.