Dolphins PUNCH Bills right in stomach

We here at Shout! are in no way condoning violence to help Bills' fans vent their frustrations, but if the Bills ever were going to sell officially licensed punching bags just in time for the Christmas season, Jake Arians punching bags, followed by Ken Irvin and Nate Clements punching bags, might be big sellers. A disheartening loss, such as the 34-27 home loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Nov. 25, ...

 

will make fans and players alike search for ways to cope with their aggravation, especially with Buffalo now 1-9 and Miami 7-3. Making things worse, the Dolphins' improbable win over the Bills – in which they rallied for 17 points in the last five minutes to win – tied them with the Jets for first place in the AFC East. So not only do the Dolphins win, not only do they win in an ultra-torturing manner for Bills fans, but they win and they're in first place! That really stinks.

So that leaves people angry. Still, Shout! suggests people walk it off. How about a short walk around the neighborhood? Breathe freely through the nostrils, get the heart pumping with some cardio and cool off. Punching bags aren't the answer, though they would be a unique marketing tool and would probably net millions in profits for Ralph Wilson Jr., who could then use the monies to pay off the big black truck he just bought Jim Kelly for his induction into the Bills' Wall of Fame. Buffalo can even maximize profits by making the punching bags in China. It's all about capitalizing on the mood – and for everyone in the Bills locker room, the mood is somber dissatisfaction.

"It's frustrating to play hard and well and not come up with a win," said Bills coach Gregg Williams. "The Dolphins made some big plays at the end and we didn't make the plays to counter that."

Certainly, the Dolphins' big plays cut the collective heart out of the collective chest of Buffalo Blue. But it's the Bills' mistakes – not anything Miami did well – that people will remember.

It should be mentioned that while Arians, Irvin and Clements provided the most glaring mistakes by Buffalo, it was an overall team breakdown that led to the Bills' fifth straight loss. Take a look: During the last four minutes, seven seconds, Miami outdrove Buffalo 83-45 – 41 of which came on the Bills' final desperation drive; Miami had four first downs to Buffalo's two – which again came on the final drive; Miami ran 10 offensive plays to Buffalo's seven – four of which came on the final drive; and Miami capitalized on one turnover to Buffalo's zero. You get the idea. Buffalo was giving up yards and wasn't gaining yardage itself until it was desperate. The Bills unraveled.

But it was Arians, Irvin and Clements who each had unique roles in the Bills being outscored 24-6 in the fourth quarter.

Arians started it off by missing an extra point, which meant Buffalo was only up 27-17 after Travis Henry's eight-yard touchdown run with eight minutes, 16 seconds left. That point would have changed everything. It would have forced the Dolphins to go for a much-less-probable two-point conversion after their touchdown on the ensuing drive. Then if Miami missed the two-point conversion, it would have been down 28-23 and would have had to score a touchdown. Instead it was down 27-24 and needed only a field goal.

So now what for Arians, who adds a missed extra point to an unimpressive 12 of 21 on field goals this season? Do fans burn him in effigy? Maybe. Does he have a future in Buffalo? Hmmm.

"We will evaluate that. I have to go through the films tomorrow," said Gregg Williams. "(Holder) Jay (Riemersma) said that he had a tough time spinning the ball, but I don't care how you spin it, you have to make the extra point. You have to kick it through."

It doesn't look good for Arians.

After the missed point, the Dolphins promptly got in position to rally. They drove 60 yards for a touchdown, converting a third down and a fourth down on the eight-play drive (see Big Play below). Jay Fiedler found Chris Chambers on a beautiful 22-yard touchdown pass, beating Ken Irvin in single coverage. Chambers just got his tippy toes in for the score, which made it 27-24.

The Dolphins tied the game with one minute, 17 seconds left shortly after Buffalo ripped off a nice-and-quick three and out. Nice offense. Then on the kickoff, Clements returned the ball 27 yards and fumbled, which put Miami in position to win in regulation. The Dolphins started at the Buffalo 42. They needed only a field goal. But, of course, they got the best possible thing – a touchdown – typical of Buffalo's season.

On first and 10 from the Buffalo 32, the Bills in dime coverage, Fiedler dropped back and sensed a left rush from Aaron Schobel. So he lofted a corner ball to Chambers again for a game-breaking touchdown and the 34-27 win. Chambers beat Irvin again, leaping high in the air, grabbing the ball and falling on his back into the end zone. Irvin tried to get his hand in Chambers' face.

"It was a tied football game and whether the (opponent was going) for three or seven, you got to get the ball," Irvin said. "I played the short route. (We) anticipated a quick throw for the type of pressure we had put on them and the guy went down the field and I tried to run with him and (Chambers) made a good catch."

Of all the rotten luck.

Irvin said, ""I feel bad for my teammates. The time when my number was called the couple of times to come out and make some plays – despite all of the other things that went against us, I had two plays to make a difference and I didn't make a difference. I just wasn't fortunate to make the plays that I should have. I'm gonna keep fighting. I'll take all the criticism for what just happened, but I know that I still gave 100 percent effort on those plays, but I'm paid to make plays and I didn't make those plays."

It was devastating, but it's something Bills fans can get over – not with the help of punching bags – but with the help of a simple walk around the neighborhood. It'll work. It will.

 

Big play

Dolphins ball, fourth and 14 from the Buffalo 38, the Bills up 27-17, with four minutes, 53 seconds remaining.

All Buffalo had to do was get a defensive stop, and it likely would have been able to take enough time out off the clock so that Miami wouldn't have gotten the two possessions it needed to win the game – not without some luck anyway.

The Bills were in a dime defense with six defensive backs. The team rushed four players and had Keith Newman and Nate Clements covering about 15 yards behind the line, in the middle of the field and just inside the tackles. Miami's lone setback, Travis Minor, went in motion to the right side, creating a five-receiver set, with two on the right and three in a bunch on the left.

Among them was Dedric Ward. Ward went 15 yards downfield, cut in and then scrambled around trying to elude Newman and Clements. He created enough separation for Fiedler to throw the ball. At first, it looked as if Fiedler was going to try to run the ball because he stepped up into the pocket to elude the rush. But then he spotted Ward and figured the receiver had a better shot at making the first down than he would if he ran.

He threw it and Ward made diving, desperate grab. First down. The beginning of the end.

"That is a play right there when we had two guys around the ball," said Gregg Williams. "I thought Jerry Gray did a good job with that particular coverage, but we didn't make the play. We were looking at the quarterback instead of relating to the receiver and making the play."

Fast facts

Eric Moulds had 196 yards receiving, tying his career high.

Sheldon Jackson scored the second touchdown of his career.

Travis Henry had career high 25-yard rush.

Buffalo drops to 1-9, it's worst record after 10 games since being 0-10 in 1984.

The Bills play at San Francisco at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2. The last time Buffalo played the Niners, it beat them 26-21 at home in 1998.

 

Reading the keys

Yes      No      

NO            Bills defensive backs vs. Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler. The Bills never intercepted Fiedler and he threw for three touchdowns and 262 yards.

YES                 Crowd the line of scrimmage. The Bills held Lamar Smith to 37 yards and Travis Minor to 38 yards.

YES                 Bills center Billy Conaty and right guard Corey Hulsey vs. left tackle Tim Bowens. Bowens was neutralized most of the day. Often Hulsey was left one-on-one with him and did fine.

NO            Take advantage of opportunities. Up by 10 with less than five minutes remaining, Buffalo had Miami at fourth and 14 and allowed it to convert. The next play was a touchdown.

 

Leading indicators

Sack differential: The Dolphins were plus-two with four sacks to Buffalo's two. The leader in this category during 10 games this season improves to 9-1.

Turnover differential: The Dolphins were plus-two with three takeaways to Buffalo's one. The leader in this category improves to 8-2.

Third-down conversions: The Bills were six of 14 (43 percent) and the Dolphins were five of 15 (33 percent) so the leader in this category drops to 6-4.

No. of offensive plays: The Bills had 64 offensive plays and the Dolphins had 64 also so with a tie the leader in this category is now 3-5-2.

Rushing yardage: The Bills rushed for 127 yards. The Dolphins rushed for 101 yards. The leader in this category drops to 4-5-1.


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