Buffalo Bills Beat Miami Dolphins 19-14 to End Losing Streak
The win snapped several streaks that Buffalo wanted to desperately end. They had lost eight straight games against AFC East opponents. In addition, Buffalo had lost three-straight games, so the win bumps the Bills up to 4-6 on the year. Miami is also 4-6 now, so both teams are holding on to the faintest of playoff hopes.
Coming into the game, the Miami defense was No. 22 in the NFL overall, but was a very good No. 5 against the run, allowing just 94.2 yards per game.
The Bills defense is No. 31 overall in the NFL. They are last in run defense, allowing 163.7 yards per game. They also give up the most points per game, allowing 31.7 points per game.
When the dust settled it was the Bills defense that prevailed, along with the special teams. The offense continues to move the ball, but is finding it hard to score touchdowns once they get in the red zone.
Inactives and Key Players Ruled out
The Bills were missing some key players due to injury. Ruled out of the Miami game were RB Fred Jackson, DE Mark Anderson, CB Aaron Williams and DE Chris Kelsay.
The Bills inactive players were: RB Fred Jackson, CB Aaron Williams, DEs Mark Anderson and Chris Kelsay, LB Kirk Morrison, OT Thomas Welch, and QB Tarvaris Jackson.
Miami inactives were: WR Jabar Gaffney, TEs Michael Egnew and Jeron Mastrud. DT Tony McDaniel, OL Will Yeatman, and QB Pat Devlin were all inactive for Thursday night's game against the Bills.
The Bills are missing two key defensive linemen and the heart and soul of their team in Fred Jackson. That means that the rest of the Bills team will have to step up if they are to end the losing streak. Kyle Moore and Shawne Merriman will have to step up and make some plays tonight.
First Quarter Review
If the opening drive of the game were to be any indication of things to come, the Bills defense held Miami to a three-and-out. Miami punted to Leodis McKelvin, who took the punt 78 yards for a touchdown. That was McKelvin's second touchdown of the season.
Buffalo held the Dolphins to another three-and-out drive. The Bills have a third-and-one, and go with Tashard Choice in the Wildcat offense. Choice comes up short and Bills punt.
Miami completes pass to Brian Hartline on first down, but Hartline is stripped by Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd recovers the fumble. This was the first turnover the Bills defense created in the last four games. That is a big development.
Bills drive stalls when Donald Jones can't come up with a pass in the end zone and Bills settle for a 32-yard Rian Lindell field goal. Bills are now up 10-0.
On the following kickoff, Marcus Thigpen returns the kick 96 yards for a touchdown, so each team has one special teams touchdown.
Bills drive down the field and on third down and one yard to go at the Miami 16, opt to go with an empty backfield. Fitzpatrick is almost intercepted and Bills get another Lindell field goal to go up 13-7. Another red zone opportunity that doesn't result in a touchdown.
Quarter ends with Bills up 13-7. Good start so far.
Second Quarter Review
The Bills defense continues to shut out the Miami offense. Buffalo is playing the run well and is not giving the Miami receivers much room to work with.
Buffalo's offense looks like the Houston game all over again. Driving the ball down the field, get into the red zone and settle for a field goal. Three times in the first half the Bills have got down in the red zone, only to come away with a field goal each time. Hopefully this doesn't come back to bite them later.
With less than nine minutes to play in the half, the Bills are now up 16-7. Bills defense continues to play well. Mario Williams sacks Ryan Tannehill at the Miami one-yard line, which means Miami has gone 0-for-5 on third down opportunities in the first half.
Buffalo starts a drive from their own 47-yard line with two minutes left to play in the half. A draw play and screen pass to C.J. Spiller moves the ball down to the Miami 20. A pass to Steve Johnson takes it to the three-yard line, but with time winding down in the half, the Bills settle for another Rian Lindell field goal.
That makes it four trips inside the red zone and four field goals. Fitzpatrick is lucky that some of his passes haven't been intercepted so far, as Miami dropped a deflection in the end zone.
Buffalo is up 19-7 at the end of the first half.
Halftime Stats and Adjustments
At the half, the Bills have run 36 plays to 20 plays for Miami. Buffalo has gained 204 yards of offense, while holding Miami to just 50 yards.
Buffalo has gone 2-7 on third down conversions, while Miami is 0-5.
Ryan Fitzpatrick went 9/17 for 122 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ryan Tannehill went 6/11 for 38 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Buffalo sacked Tannehill once, while Fitzpatrick was sacked twice by Miami.
Buffalo had 13 first downs in the first half, while Miami had just two. The Bills held the ball for 19:24, while Miami only had it for 10:36.
With a comfortable lead coming into the second half, expect the Bills to continue to run the football, trying to wear down the Dolphins defense. Miami will probably be looking to pass the ball to try to get back into this game, so the Bills defense should be looking to apply some heavy pressure on Tannehill.
Mario Williams had a nice sack when he beat rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin. Look for Williams to continue attacking Martin in the second half.
There was even a Shawne Merriman sighting in the first half, where he made a solid play in setting the edge on an outside run. The fact that he jumped offsides on the very next play is beside the point.
Buffalo looks to be in control, but they have to make sure they don't turn the ball over in the second half.
Third Quarter Review
After halftime, Buffalo came out and drove into Miami territory but wound up punting the ball. The rest of the quarter saw both teams trade punts as they battled for field position.
It wasn't until 3:37 left to play in the third quarter that the Dolphins offense finally crossed into Buffalo territory. Miami tried a 50-yard field goal, but the ball bounced off the uprights.
Reggie Bush has been very quiet all game. The NFL Network broadcast flashed a stat on the screen that Bush had attempted seven rushes in the game for no yards.
That is a testament to how well the Bills run defense played tonight. So much for the worst run defense in the NFL. A year ago, Bush set a career-high in Buffalo with 203 rushing yards. What a difference a year makes.
The third quarter ends with the score Buffalo 19-7.
Fourth Quarter Review
The fourth quarter hasn't been very kind to Buffalo this year. The Bills offense wound up being shut out in the second half. In total, Buffalo held the ball for more than 10 minutes than Miami had it, but yet the offense still couldn't score in the second half.
Miami finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a nice catch by Davone Bess. The play was originally called incomplete, but Miami challenged the call and it was overturned. That was Miami's first touchdown on offense in their last 28 drives.
Buffalo was now up by just 19-14. Buffalo had to punt, and rookie Shaun Powell punted the ball out of bounds inside Miami's own one-yard line. Miami had to drive 99 yards, but the drive was killed when Jairus Byrd made a beautiful diving interception. It was the fourth interception of the year for Byrd.
The Bills couldn't pick up a first down, so Miami burned all their time outs and forced a punt. The final drive of the game saw Bryan Scott come up with a huge interception to seal the win for the Bills.
The streak of losses in the AFC East ended, as did the Bills losing streak. Buffalo is now 2-2 at home this year.
C.J. Spiller Versus Reggie Bush Duel
One of the interesting plots of the game would be the two star running backs, C.J. Spiller versus Reggie Bush.
Coming into the game the Dolphins run defense was No. 5, while the Bills were dead last. The Bills only gave up 60 rushing yards to Miami, while Buffalo doubled their total with 120 rushing yards.
C.J. Spiller gained 91 yards on 22 carries, for an average of 4.1 yards per rush. His overall NFL average clearly went down after tonight's game.
Reggie Bush didn't come anywhere close to duplicating what he did in Buffalo last year. Bush averaged only two yards per rush, as he gained 20 yards on 10 carries. That might explain why he spent long stretches on the bench.
During the broadcast, NFL Network flashed this up on the screen. With a minimum of 100 carries in a season, Spiller came in ranked as No. 2 in NFL history by averaging 7.01 yards per rush. The all-time leader was Beattie Feathers of the Chicago Bears in 1934, who averaged 8.44 yards per rush.
One of Buffalo Defense's Best Overall Games of the Year
The Buffalo Bills defense only gave up 184 yards of offense tonight. Their ranking in a number of defensive categories will go up based on this game.
The Bills only allowed Miami to convert on three of 10 third-down opportunities. The Bills defense came up with three sacks, seven tackles for loss, five passes defended, five quarterback hits and the biggest stat of all, three turnovers.
It was the turnovers in the final two Miami drives that really won this game. The Bills inability to score touchdowns in the first half allowed the Dolphins to hang in this game far longer than they deserved to.
This game has to serve as a bit of redemption for the Bills defense. They now have the next 10 days to study up on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick Struggles in Red Zone Continues
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 17-of-27 passes for 161 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was an active scrambler tonight, as the Dolphins pass rush forced him out of the pocket on numerous occasions.
Whether it was due to the play call, or to the elusive running style of C.J. Spiller, but Fitzpatrick wound up throwing far more blocks tonight than any other game this year. He was throwing his body around the field in the first half, much to the chagrin of Chan Gailey.
The Bills offense was once again able to move the ball inside the 20's, but when they get to the red zone, the play calling winds up in one frustrating drive after another.
Thankfully Rian Lindell was on tonight, making good on all four field goal tries, because the Bills needed every one of them.
Bills Have 10 Days to Prepare for Indianapolis
Due to the Thursday night game, the Bills now have 10 days to get ready for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
If Buffalo can defeat the Colts they would then be sitting at 5-6 with a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills had been 3-3, and then 3-6 before you knew it. If they could somehow get back to 6-6, then that gives them a shot to really have some confidence for the final four games.
The Bills hope to get some starters back for the Indianapolis game. Chris Kelsay and hopefully Fred Jackson should be back.
It was nice to see Shawne Merriman make a couple positive plays tonight. Mike Mayock of NFL Network said during the broadcast that Merriman had made the most amount of money for doing the least amount of work in the NFL over the past few years. It would be hard to argue with him on that point.