Bills Fall to Dolphins 22-9

In a must-win game, the Buffalo Bills played one of their worst games of the season. It was nothing new for Bills fans who have come to expect this type of performance over the last decade-plus. At 5-5, the team isn't truly out of playoff contention, but their conference record will make it near impossible.

It was a must-win game for the Buffalo Bills. Unfortunately, this "must-win" game went the same way that so many have in the last 15 years. Buffalo fell apart in the second half and the Dolphins cruised to a 22-9 victory. 

The Miami Dolphins were the better team on Thursday, but they were also the recipients of some very generous play calls. A Kyle Orton intentional grounding for a safety looked nothing like an intentional grounding. A pass interference on Stephon Gilmore? It wasn't even close, but Mike Wallace begged for a flag and received one. It set up a touchdown for the Dolphins that put the game out of reach.

Yes, these penalties led to nine points for Miami, but the bottom line is that the Bills were outplayed and outcoached on Thursday Night Football.

Offensively, the Bills were putrid. In the first half, they moved the ball successfully. It led to six points. In the second half, the offensive line couldn't block and Kyle Orton couldn't throw accurate passes to save his life. Orton finished the game 22/39 for 193 yards. At this point, the Bills need to decide if starting E.J. Manuel the rest of the way is what's best for the team moving forward. If the Bills are still clinging to playoff hopes, Orton may get the nod. That said, the sooner the Bills can see what they have in Manuel after his stint on the bench, the better.

With Orton struggling in a close game, you'd think the Bills would run the ball more. Yet, the Bills only attempted 19 carries all game. The run game didn't have much success with only 54 yards on the ground, but for the second consecutive week the playcalling was too pass-heavy.

Buffalo's receiving game was led by Chris Hogan. The receiver had 74 yards on seven catches. Bryce Brown followed with 57 yards on seven receptions. Sammy Watkins was quiet for his second consecutive week, catching three passes for 32 yards.

Defensively, the Bills gave up plenty of yards. Ryan Tannehill was able to pass for 240 yards and Lamar Miller added another 86 yards on the ground. In all, the Dolphins had 125 yards rushing.

Buffalo's defense was able to get to Tannehill throughout the evening. The Dolphins quarterback was sacked five times and fumbled once. The Bills were also able to recover a fumble on their free kick following the safety. The latter didn't lead to any points after Dan Carpenter missed a 47 yard field goal. He had made his first three.

The players didn't perform on the field, but Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett should both be feeling their job security slip away a bit. Marrone gives the same "looking at the percentages" talk after the game, but doesn't seem to understand what that means. Down 19-9 with a little less than 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Bills faced a 4th and 6 from the Dolphins 47 yard line. If there was ever a time to go for it, this was it. Instead, Marrone sent in the punter. One 27 yard punt later, the Dolphins were back in business. They held the ball for five minutes before punting it back to Buffalo. Marrone's lack of aggressive playcalling in what was truly a "do or die" game fo the Bills is worrisome. Seeing Nathaniel Hackett's offense sputter for the second consecutive week is also a problem. 

The Bills have new owners who would be wise to keep an open mind in regards to keeping or firing their coaching staff following the season. The Pegulas may be new to the job, but Bills fans certainly feel like they've seen this movie before. Bills fans deserve a winning team and they may not get one with Doug Marrone as their head coach. 


Buffalo Football Report Top Stories