Bills vs. Dolphins: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Buffalo

Joshua CornwallContributor IOctober 20, 2013

The rookies will need to step up again for the Bills to pull out a win.
The rookies will need to step up again for the Bills to pull out a win.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills used a strip-sack by Mario Williams and a last-second field goal from former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter to sink Miami in front of a spotty home crowd. 


Final Score:

Bills: 23

Dolphins: 21


Buffalo Bills Grades
Positional Unit1st-Half GradesGame Grades
Pass OffenseB-B
Run OffenseDC
Pass DefenseA-A-
Run DefenseC-D+
Special TeamsAA
Buffalo Bills Week 7


Second-Half Analysis:

Pass Offense: Stevie Johnson saved Thad Lewis from some bad throws and had a pretty good day despite not having gaudy stats. Lewis needs to recognize when a receiver is short of the sticks on third down. There were several times where Lewis threw a pass behind his receiver resulting in a play being just short of the first-down marker. Not a good trend if the Bills want to put up points.

Run Offense: Fred Jackson may have saved the Bills' season with a first-down run on 3rd-and-3. Jackson allowed the Bills to churn some more clock and set up the eventual clinching field goal by Carpenter. C.J. Spiller is clearly not healthy and it may be good to sit him down next week against the Saints.

Pass Defense: Ryan Tannehill might have had his first three-touchdown performance of his career, but the Bills secondary played very well for a majority of the game. Stephon Gilmore, like Spiller, is not fit enough to be playing a good chunk of plays. He was beaten badly by Brian Hartline during the second half. Nickell Robey and Leodis McKelvin should be in the running for game balls because of their high level of play.

Run Defense: The Dolphins came into the game averaging under 70 yards on the ground. They finished today with 120 yards. Not good.

Special Teams: The Bills entered the season with two young special teams players, but Carpenter and Brian Moorman have been two shining stars during the team’s 3-4 start. Marcus Easley had three big tackles on special teams, but Marquise Goodwin did not show anything special in the return game. Goodwin has not had many opportunities to return kicks before today’s contest.

Coaching: Mario Williams saved the coaching staff from receiving an extra helping of seething emails this week from the Buffalo faithful. Marrone and Hackett have not learned the art of making adjustments on the fly so far. Hackett continues to be a lightning rod for criticism on social media because of the offense’s vanilla play-calling.


Fred Jackson saves the day for Buffalo.
Fred Jackson saves the day for Buffalo.Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports


First-Half Analysis:

Pass Offense: There were clear signs of missed communication between Thad Lewis and his receivers early on, but he had a handful of very nice throws for big gains. Pass protection has not been very good. Actually, the pass protection has been terrible. The interception thrown by Lewis was on Erik Pears, and Pears was beaten again twice more in the second quarter, nearly leading to more turnovers.

Run Offense: Miami has done a good job of containing the Bills’ top backs when they have been on the field. Fullback Frank Summers is the leading rusher in the first half for the Bills. That alone pretty much sums up this unit’s first half.

Pass Defense: The Bills are healthy in the secondary for the first time this season and it shows. After weeks of seeing potential interceptions glancing off his fingertips, Nickell Robey capitalized on a bad mistake by Ryan Tannehill on the Dolphins’ first drive. Aaron Williams also baited Tannehill into a lame-duck throw in the end zone to keep the Dolphins off the scoreboard.

Run Defense: Miami has had an awful time running the ball this season, but it had plenty of success in the first half, especially up the middle. It does not matter whom the Bills put in the middle of the defensive line at this point, because they have been getting gouged up the middle consistently in 2013.

Special Teams: Brian Moorman has been thankful for his return to Buffalo after being a free agent early in the season. He booted a 70-plus yard put in the first half to pin the Dolphins deep in their own territory. Marcus Easley continues to be a special teams monster on kick coverage. He made two shoestring tackles to stop returners in their tracks.

Coaching: Things started off pretty well for the coaching staff, but the final two minutes of the half would get any coach on the hot seat fired. The Bills had the ball with 1:44 to go and they went conservative, giving the ball back to the Dolphins. Tannehill obliged with a long touchdown drive to end the half, and Buffalo now has zero momentum entering the break. You have to wonder when things will click for Nate Hackett and Doug Marrone. Offensive play-calling has been abysmal to start the year.