The Buffalo Bills overcame a sluggish start to outlast the winless Miami Dolphins Sunday, picking up a 31-21 victory to improve to 5-1 on the season. While the final score was much closer than fans would have liked it to be, it’s always better to be on the winning end of a game like that than it is to lose in any fashion.
The Bills needed some clutch performances from some of their top-end players to pull out the win. While he wasn’t one of our five players to watch last week, cornerback Tre’Davious White was the catalyst for the comeback, intercepting a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the third quarter that kept Miami from extending their lead and gave the Bills the chance to drive for a touchdown. White also forced a fumble that led to more points for Buffalo.
How did our five players to watch fare in the game? Here’s a rundown.
QB Josh Allen
I said that Allen needed to avoid turning the ball over this week and, lo and behold, he was able to do it. Allen’s day was a tale of two halves, as the second-year signal-caller went 6-of-15 for 90 yards in the first half, but he followed it up with a blistering second half, completing 10-of-11 passes for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns after the intermission. Allen also plunged in for a two-point conversion to make the score 17-14. Allen’s performance certainly wasn’t dominant, but it was filled with much more good than bad, as he continued to show guts when the game is on the line.
RB Devin Singletary
The rookie rusher returned from a hamstring injury suffered in Buffalo’s Week 2 victory over the New York Giants. He appeared on only 22 snaps for the afternoon, good for 39% of Buffalo’s 56 total snaps run. While he had averaged more than ten yards per carry coming into the game, Singletary’s final line against Miami was fairly pedestrian, as he logged 7 carries for 26 yards on the day, good for 3.7 yards per tote. He showed some of his characteristic slippery running, shaking off a tackler in the hole in order to pick up a tough first down at one point in the game. Singletary showed no lingering effects from that hamstring injury, which bodes well for his usage going forward.
DE Jerry Hughes
Buffalo’s top pass rusher once again failed to register a sack, and this week he very nearly did not appear on the stats sheet at all. Hughes tallied one quarterback hit and one fumble recovery on the day. He did not make a tackle. On quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Hughes had a wide-open shot at Fitz, but he was unable to corral the wily veteran. Hughes has to make that tackle, and he has to start making more regular appearances in opposing backfields. Perhaps it was due to Fitzpatrick’s quick release or the defensive game plan in general, but Buffalo struggled to rush the Miami quarterback on Sunday. With Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town next week, the team will have to put pressure on the passer.
LB Lorenzo Alexander
Thanks to Matt Milano’s hamstring injury, Alexander saw an uptick in playing time this week, logging a season-high 70 snaps (96% of the team’s defensive total) on the day. Alexander totaled a game-high 10 tackles, adding in 1 pass breakup, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 quarterback hit, as well. While all of this seems great, Alexander’s limitations in coverage were exploited early and often, as Fitzpatrick was able to hit his backs and tight ends in short and intermediate portions of the field throughout most of the afternoon. ‘Zo is what he is—a great pass rusher and an impeccable leader—but a strong coverage linebacker he is not. Hopefully, Milano is healthy enough to return next week, returning Alexander to the situational role in which he’s thrived this year.
CB Levi Wallace
Sheesh, maybe I should stop calling my shot, eh? Wallace not only did not notch his first career interception during this game, but he was also abused regularly by the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick really didn’t throw at Tre’Davious White (and when he did, the stud corner laid out and picked him off), choosing instead to exploit Wallace’s lack of physicality on the outside. Perhaps they were out-smarted by the Harvard-grad Fitzpatrick, and by running some off coverages, Wallace was left in a “close-and-tackle” position for much of the day; however, Miami’s big-bodied receivers gave Wallace fits, and Fitz was able to take advantage. With Alshon Jeffery (6’3” and 218 lbs) and Mack Hollins (6’4” and 221 lbs) to contend with this week, Wallace could be in for a similar situation against the Eagles.