Last week I predicted how the Buffalo Bills would beat the Miami Dolphins, and I gave some specific predictions about how it would all go down. You will all be relieved knowing that I was right, though it turns out I was too conservative. When I predicted the game would be close and an "all out slugfest" what I really meant was "It won't be close and will be a savage beatdown."
The Dolphins DID Run The Ball... Sort Of
The Dolphins gained a combined 102 rushing yards on 20 attempts. But despite the 5.1 yards per carry average, the ground game was ineffective. The Bills front seven mostly dominated the Dolphins on the ground, and it showed especially at the end of the first half, when the Dolphins trailed 27-0. Lamar Miller is banged up and it showed, and the newly signed Jonas Gray led the Dolphins with just 49 yards.
The Bills Ran The Ball Well
Even with LeSean McCoy clearly affected by his lingering hamstring issues, and the loss of Bills guard John Miller with an injury, the Bills rushed for 151 yards to the tune of 4.4 yards per carry. Bills rookie Karlos Williams led the team with 110 yards and 1 touchdown, with an impressive 9.1 yards per carry average. This McCoy injury has to be a concern for the Bills, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Bills hold him out of practice this week as they prepare to host the NY Giants.
The Bills Handled Ryan Tannehill
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked twice and intercepted three times by the Bills. He finished the game completing 26 for 49 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Two of the interceptions were by Bills linebacker Preston Brown, including his 43 yard pick-six late in the second quarter. The Bills have had Tannehill's number, winning 4 of the last 5 games against him. As one Buffalo fan said to me during the game, "I hope Tannehill is the Dolphins QB for a long time." For the third straight game, the Dolphins were forced to throw the ball much more than they intended. They are now 1-2.
The Bills Passing Game Could Not Be Stopped
Even with Sammy Watkins injured in the first half, the Bills threw the ball all over the Dolphins. Tyrod Taylor was 21 for 29 for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns, two of which went to former Miami players Chris Hogan, and Charles Clay. Ouch. Miami was unable to put a lot of pressure on Taylor, who was not sacked.
Rex Ryan Outcoached Joe Philbin
Bills head coach Rex Ryan named five players with Miami connections as team captains for the game. I'm sorry, but that was genius. This list? Bills guard Richie Incognito, kicker Dan Carpenter, tight end Charles Clay, wide receiver Marcus Thigpen, and even OL Seantrel Henderson the former member of the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes. Maybe this sent a message to the Dolphins players, and maybe this got into the heads of their coaches. Maybe it even affected the fans (who did not sell out their home opener). Who knows? What we do know is that small gestures like this matter a lot to Rex Ryan's players, who were definitely ready to play this game.
The Bills came to Miami with a solid gameplan and made few mistakes. I expected the Bills would reign in the penalties this week, and they did, to the tune of 5 penalties for 40 yards. Rex Ryan was visibly upset at one point in the game, when the Dolphins were awarded a first down on a Bills penalty. The Bills later stopped Miami on 4th down with a gritty goalline stand. On paper, Miami should not be losing games 41-14 in their home opener. Not with this roster.
Final Score: Bills 41, Dolphins 14
The Buffalo Bills dominated the Dolphins on every level for the entire game. It never felt close, nor did it seem like Miami ever had an answer to what the Bills were up to on either side of the Ball. And yes, I was wrong in my score prediction when I said the Bills would win 29-19. Bills fans, I apologize. I hope you forgive me.
BONUS: Random Observations
Tyrod Taylor finished the game with a passer rating of 136.7. He had a strong presence in the pocket, and only rushed 3 times for 12 yards. He used his mobility well as a "pass first" quarterback, scoring three TD's and was never sacked. He is now statistically one of the best Quarterbacks in the league.
Sammy Watkins stats after 3 games: 13 targets, 7 catches, 99 yards, and one TD. The extent of his calf injury was not known, but he was seen on the sidelines in street clothes in the second half.
Sunday's game was Miami's home opener, against a division rival. It was not a sellout; Sun Life Stadium has 75,192 seats, but 64,869 fans were in attendance, for roughly 86% capacity. Compare this to Buffalo's home opener against the Colts: Ralph Wilson Stadium was 96% full, with 70,319 fans in a stadium of 73,097 seats. That is 96% of max capacity. Not bad for a "small market" Buffalo team, is it? I almost feel bad for the Dolphins players, until I remember the whole living on the beach and year round sun thing.
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