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Buffalo Bills 17, Miami Dolphins 21: Rapid recap and notes

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The Bills lost a heartbreaker in Miami.

The Buffalo Bills took their game to the edge, but collapsed at the final moment. Down 21-17 on 4th and 11, Charles Clay was wide open, alone in the end zone. Josh Allen, dodging and weaving around pass rushers, found some room to heave a ball 30 yards downfield. Clay dove for the pass but couldn’t hold onto it, and the Bills fell to the Miami Dolphins. Despite a strong defensive effort and another physical cheat code performance from their rookie quarterback, the Buffalo Bills suffered a 17-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Special teams mistakes and penalties hurt the Bills in crucial situations to give Miami enough life to win the game.

In the first quarter, the Dolphins drove for a touchdown to start the game. It was the second opening drive TD for Miami this season, and the second opening drive score allowed by Buffalo all year. The teams traded punts, but the Bills found paydirt on their third drive. Allen found Zay Jones at the back of the end zone, but Stephen Hauschka missed his first extra point since joining the Bills, leaving the score 7-6 in favor of the Dolphins.

Buffalo’s defense harassed Ryan Tannehill all game, with three sacks before halftime. Buffalo dominated field position in the first half, but Miami caught a big break when punt returner Isaiah McKenzie muffed a punt amid a group of Bills blockers. The Dolphins turned that field position into a 14-6 halftime lead.

The Bills reversed the scoring trend in the second half. Allen, already confident in his legs after last week’s win, broke his own rushing record by eclipsing 100 yards on the ground. He led the Bills to a field goal, then connected with Jones for his second touchdown of the day. Finding Jones for the two point conversion gave the Bills a 17-14 lead, their first of the day.

Jordan Phillips, facing his former team, made a couple splash plays on the defensive line, but his largest impact came from a referee. Phillips was flagged for taunting when he lifted a runner’s leg during a fourth quarter tackle for loss. The momentum from that reset resulted in a Kenny Stills touchdown in the corner of the end zone.

Buffalo attempted a comeback in the final five minutes, but their first drive fizzled when Allen was strip-sacked on 3rd down. Wyatt Teller recovered the ball, but Hauschka’s 55-yard field goal attempt flew wide left.

The Bills managed to stop the Dolphins with time on the clock, thanks to Miami’s curious decision to call a Wildcat run on 3rd and 1. Allen heated up and drove the Bills into Miami territory over the last two minutes of the game, and it looked like he’d stabbed a dagger into the Dolphins when he appeared to hit Jones down the sideline and put the Bills into a goal-to-go situation. The referees overruled the catch, leaving the Bills 30 yards out with less than a minute to go.

On fourth and 11, Allen took a snap and immediately transfigured into Hero Mode. Rushed by pass rushers, Allen spun out of the pocket and doubled back. He found Clay deep downfield, and heaved a laser to the tight end, who dropped the ball. Game, set, match. The Bills dropped to 4-8 on the season with this loss.

Notes

  • The Bills are now 0-8 this season when they don’t score first. They’re 4-0 when they score first.
  • They’re also 0-8 when trailing at halftime, and 4-0 when they aren’t.
  • Jones had a career day with 4 catches, 67 yards, and 2 TDs and a two point conversion. He nearly added another 20 yards with a negated catch. Allen also missed Jones in the end zone earlier, which forced a field goal attempt.
  • Allen started the game slowly, but finished red-hot as his galloping runs filled him with confidence. He set a new QB rushing record with 135 yards on nine attempts, and added 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions on 18/33 passing.
  • One of Allen’s interceptions was a halftime Hail Mary. The other came when a disguised coverage fooled him, and Xavien Howard undercut a route for the pick.
  • Immediately after that second interception, Micah Hyde picked off Ryan Tannehill to reset the possession.
  • The Bills held Miami to 175 yards on 47 plays. It was the third time this season they held a team below 200 yards of offense.
  • In his return from injury, Clay caught one pass for nine yards on two targets. His dropped pass resonated much more.
  • Center Russell Bodine left the game with a leg injury and did not return.