Royal, offense fumble away key road game (Associated Press)
For a team that has made a name for itself with excellent fourth quarter play this season, the Buffalo Bills sure fell short of expectations today.
Four second-half turnovers and 18 unanswered points by the Miami Dolphins led to a 25-16 loss for the Bills in their first AFC East matchup of the season. The Bills remained in the game until late into the fourth quarter, but their unexpectedly sloppy play caught up to them by the end of the game.
Miami deserves credit for this win; they earned it. Chad Pennington carved Buffalo's defense up to the tune of 314 passing yards. Ted Ginn Jr. had 175 receiving yards, nearly matching his season total of 177. The Dolphins were able to make plays on their home field while the Bills tripped over their own feet.
Trent Edwards is M.I.A.
The mystique surrounding Bills QB Trent Edwards evaporated after a miserable performance in Miami. Sure, he completed 21 of 35 passes for 227 yards; those aren't mediocre statistics by any means. It was his interception, taken safety, and lost fumble, however, that humbled Buffalo's young signal caller. His QB rating was a dismal 67.2 on the day; his performance was much worse than that rating.
Lee Evans continued his strong play against the Dolphins; his 116 yards on 7 receptions paced the Bills. The offense began to struggle, however, when third-down specialist WR Josh Reed left the game with a strained Achilles.
For the first time all season, Edwards had help on the ground. Buffalo's rushing attack rebounded from a sluggish start to the season in a big way today; unfortunately, playing from behind eliminated their effectiveness. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson combined for 102 yards on 23 carries, and Lynch scored from eight yards out to put the Bills up 16-7 early in the third quarter. The Dolphins, however, dominated from that point forward.
Defense inconsistent, especially against the pass
It was undeniably the Bills' four turnovers that did the team in, but an abysmal performance by the pass defense put the Bills in a precarious position to begin with. With CB Terrence McGee still hobbled with his sprained knee, Pennington and the Dolphins attacked - and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell couldn't counter. This was Ginn's best game as a professional by far, and the Bills' inability to shut him down is as embarrassing a stat as any on this day.
As for the Wildcat, it was, essentially, a non-factor. It was an efficient running play for the Dolphins and led to a few first downs, but in the grand scheme of things, Buffalo had much bigger problems defensively. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for just 59 rushing yards on the day (including a Williams score); it was Pennington, who has shredded the Bills in the past, that did Buffalo in today.
Langston Walker blocked a field goal in the first half to highlight another highly average special teams effort by the Bills.
When you embarrass yourselves on the road as the Bills did today, nobody gets a game ball - even though there were a few nice individual performances today.
38 Rumblers showed up to commiserate in this most awful of losses. Props to WABillsfan, whose hatred for Perry Fewell led to 122 comments, pacing the day. Thanks to everyone who joined...
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Buffalo needs to take this one in the chin, realize that they're not immune to playing like crap, and move past it. So do we. We'll take a couple of days to look back at this "performance" and move on as well. With the Jets and Patriots both pulling out late wins against lesser opponents today, this is the worst possible scenario the Bills could have had today. Bad Sunday, folks. How the Bills respond is now the biggest key.