The Miami Dolphins gave the Buffalo Bills their best shot on Sunday, at least for the first half. With a 3-3 game at intermission, it felt like Buffalo was ripe for an upset, especially given the effectiveness of Miami’s defense against Buffalo’s high-powered offense.
Instead, the better team came through with the victory, as Buffalo rattled off 14 unanswered points before conceding a score late that, at least briefly, made the game a toss-up again. Buffalo was able to put the game out of reach with two scores in the game’s final three minutes, handing Miami their seventh-consecutive loss in 2021.
The Bills did a solid job on defense, especially as it relates to taking care of our players to watch this week. Here’s how the visiting players to watch fared on Sunday.
QB Tua Tagovailoa
For the third time, Tagovailoa struggled to find any sort of consistency against the Bills. Granted, one of those three starts ended after just six drop-backs, but the early returns are not good as it relates to Tagovailoa’s effectiveness against the team that figures to be his main competition as his career with the Dolphins progresses. He managed to avoid a costly turnover for the first three quarters of the game, but a fourth-quarter interception gave the Bills six points that put the game out of reach. Tagovailoa completed 21-of-39 passes for just 205 yards and that interception, adding a rushing touchdown and ten yards on four carries. That passing yardage total includes a 40-yard desperation heave to tight end Mike Gesicki that should not have counted, as Greg Rousseau had his helmet removed by right tackle Jesse Davis on an obvious hands-to-the-face penalty that went uncalled.
RB Myles Gaskin
Miami’s top rusher in this one had a few decent gains, but Gaskin ultimately finished the day a disappointment. He had 12 carries for 36 yards, adding three catches for 19 yards in the passing game. He played 40 snaps on the day compared to just 16 for Salvon Ahmed, but Ahmed touched the ball eight times on those 16 snaps. Gaskin had a solid year in 2020, but he hasn’t been able to recreate that success this year, especially in the passing game. He averaged 9.5 yards per reception last year, and while he’s on pace to surpass his reception total from last season, he is averaging a paltry 5.3 yards per catch. Gaskin was essentially a nonfactor on Sunday.
TE Mike Gesicki
The tight end was quiet for much of the day, and his teammate, wideout DeVante Parker, who returned from injury, decimated Buffalo’s defense. Matched up against the smaller Levi Wallace for much of the day, Parker was able to have his way with the Bills on crossing routes and sideline fades alike, as he caught eight passes for 85 yards on the day. Gesicki, meanwhile, was quiet for much of the afternoon, but on Miami’s lone touchdown drive, he was the star. Gesicki pulled in a 40-yard reception on fourth down to extend the drive, and then he caught the two-point conversion pass when he was wide open in the end zone. He finished the day with three receptions for 48 yards on just four targets.
CB Xavien Howard
The positive is that Josh Allen didn’t throw another interception to Howard, who has intercepted Allen four times in their eight meetings. It was clear, though, that Howard impacted the game, as he did a fantastic job in coverage throughout the day. Allen came into the contest averaging 319 passing yards and three passing touchdowns per game over his previous four starts. The Dolphins held him to 249 yards and two touchdowns, and they were especially effective in the first half. Howard had two tackles and one pass breakup in the game, but his effect on the contest goes well beyond the box score.
S Jevon Holland
Thanks to a solid game plan and good overall defense from the Dolphins, Buffalo was unable to strike for many big plays on Sunday. That was a bit of a surprise, as I expected that Buffalo could exploit Miami’s safety group deep. Holland made five tackles and he pressured Allen on a blitz to end the Bills’ first drive of the game. He didn’t break up any passes, and he was the closest man in coverage on two of Buffalo’s longer plays: a 15-yard gain by Zack Moss and a 17-yard strike to Cole Beasley. Otherwise, he was fairly effective.