The Week 16 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins marked the 100th meeting between the two organizations and was a major milestone in this rivalry between AFC East foes. This game will be one that Bills fans will remember for a long time with a dominating performance over the Dolphins, 19-0.
The Bills defense set the tone by shutting out the Dolphins offense, holding them to 103 total yards and sacking Ryan Tannehill seven times. The offense, led by backup quarterback Thad Lewis, controlled the tempo of the game with a balanced attack between the run and pass.
These are the five biggest takeaways from the Bills’ Week 16 victory over the Dolphins.
Many thought that this was a 'meaningless' game for the Buffalo Bills, but luckily no one told Kyle Williams and Fred Jackson.
Kyle Williams is in eighth season with the Buffalo Bills and is having a career year. On Sunday, he had five tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits against the Dolphins. He was consistently breaking through the middle of the Dolphins offensive line and not allowing Tannehill to step up in the pocket. This was one of the big reasons why the Bills were able to sack the Dolphins quarterback seven times.
Offensively, the Bills were led by Fred Jackson who had his first 100-yard rushing performance of the year. He also scored the only touchdown of the game for either team. What made this feat even more impressive was that he played with broken ribs, according to Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News.
The Bills running back said after the game:
You want to be a leader on this team? One of the best ways to show that you're with this team is to play hurt. And that's what I wanted to do -- let those guys know that I would be with them.
Fred Jackson has demonstrated time and time again the type of player and leader he is. This is just one more example of how valuable he is to this organization.
The Bills have had a number of impressive defensive games this season, including the five-interception game against Baltimore and the dominant performance over the New York Jets in Week 11. Those were great games, but this was the first time Buffalo was able to shut out an opponent.
From start to finish, the Bills kept the Dolphins offense in check with the only mistake being a 50-yard reception to Brian Hartline in the second half. Buffalo held the Dolphins to a 2.0 yards-per-play average and a total of 103 yards.
In past games, the Bills have used turnovers to make up for mental mistakes over the course of the game, but that was not needed in this game. The biggest reason for their success today was the Bills shut down the rushing attack, allowing only 14 yards and pressuring Ryan Tannehill with seven sacks.
The Bills offensive line has struggled mightily this year but had their best overall game against one of the better pass-rushing defenses in the league. Entering this game, Miami was third in the league in sacks with 41, only eight behind Buffalo.
The front five of Buffalo were able to neutralize an impressive group of Dolphins pass-rushers and gave up only one sack, which was a corner blitz by Nolan Carroll. This gave Lewis time in the pocket to look down the field and make throws under little duress.
As good as the pass protection was, the run protection was just as good. In their first matchup, the Bills were only able to generate 90 yards rushing. The two main backs, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, only accounted for 47 of those yards.
In this game though, the offensive line was able to neutralize the Dolphins defensive front and generate running lanes for the Bills’ rushing attack. They were able to neutralize the Dolphins defensive front. The team finished with 203 yards rushing, and Buffalo's two main backs combined for 188 of those yards.
Over the first three drives, Thad Lewis' stat line was not pretty. He started the game 1-for-7 for 57 yards, and Buffalo was only able to score three points, with the other two drives ending with punts.
The start of the game, though, set up the Bills' success for the remainder of the game because the Bills finally started a game throwing it deep.
In Lewis' first seven throws, five of them were deep throws. He only connected on one of those five throws, but the Dolphins defense knew that they had to respect the potential for a deep ball.
With the threat of a deep pass, Miami could not stack the line as much to stop the run. When Marquise Goodwin went down with an injury and Robert Woods was ejected, the ability for the big play took a major hit. However, the precedent was set that the Bills wanted to go deep, and that kept the Dolphins off-balance for the majority of the game.
For the first time since 2007, Buffalo has secured a divisional record of .500 or better with today's win over Miami. If the Bills are able to beat New England next week, they will finish the year 4-2 against the AFC East.
This is an area that Buffalo has struggled in the five seasons prior to this year with a record of 6-24. This is a big reason why the team has struggled to get out of the cellar of the division.
Even though the Bills will miss the playoffs again this year, the division record is a sign that this organization is heading in the right direction.