The Miami Dolphins came to Orchard Park needing a win against the Buffalo Bills to clinch a playoff berth. They could back in with some help, but they controlled their own destiny at the start of the day.
Miami took a 3-0 lead early, and they had Bills quarterback Josh Allen flummoxed throughout the first quarter by showing a variety of loaded boxes and pressure fronts. As the Bills adjusted, though, the gimmick lost its effectiveness and the Buffalo went on to drop a 56-26 drubbing on the Dolphins.
It wasn’t a great day for most of Miami’s top players. Here’s how our players to watch performed in this one.
QB Tua Tagovailoa
His total numbers paint a far rosier picture than the actual game did, and that’s saying quite a lot, since his final numbers weren’t all that great. Tagovailoa finished the game with 361 passing yards, completing 35-of-58 attempts. He threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions, all in the second half. The three interceptions came in a 20-play span in the third quarter, snuffing out any hopes Miami had of mounting a comeback against Buffalo’s reserves. By the time Tagovailoa threw his touchdown pass, a 25-yard rainbow to Malcolm Perry, there was 2:53 left and Miami trailed by 30 points. At halftime, Tagovailoa had completed 12-of-19 passes for just 89 yards. He led seven first-half drives, five of which ended with punts. In the biggest game of Tagovailoa’s rookie season, he came up well short.
RB Myles Gaskin
Miami’s running game was well contained all day by Buffalo’s defense, as the Dolphins rushed 20 times for only 70 yards. Gaskin had seven carries for 20 yards, with a long of seven on the afternoon. He did add four catches for 57 yards, including a 32-yard catch on a nice trick play. Tagovailoa threw a backwards pass to wide receiver Lynn Bowden, who played quarterback at Kentucky last year, before Bowden hit Gaskin down the far sideline for a big gain. Gaskin finished off a solid rookie season that saw him gain 584 yards on 142 carries in just ten games.
TE Mike Gesicki
After Gesicki absolutely torched the Bills in Week 2, it appeared the team had a plan to stop the budding star at tight end. Gesicki was held to just five catches for 47 yards even though he was targeted ten times. After allowing him to catch eight passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns last time, that’s a big improvement. Perhaps it was partially due to the difference between Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started the Week 2 Bills’ victory, but the return of Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds certainly helped, as well.
DE Shaq Lawson
Lawson entered the game questionable thanks to an ankle injury, and while he did pressure Josh Allen once, he didn’t play much on Sunday. Lawson was limited to just 12 defensive snaps, by far his lowest total of the season. Curiously, he played a season-high 11 special teams snaps. It appears that the Dolphins’ game plan was to flood the field with linebackers, leaving just two defensive linemen to play more than half the defensive snaps. Lawson did not make a tackle in the game.
LB Jerome Baker
Baker entered the game Miami’s leading tackler, and while he only had four tackles in the game, he ended the season as Miami’s leading tackler, as well. Baker finished with 112 tackles this year, 14 shy of his career-high mark from last year. Baker came into the game on a sack streak, having notched 4.5 over his last three games, but it was Andrew Van Ginkel who sacked Josh Allen, not Baker.