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Buffalo Bills 35, Miami Dolphins 0: Rapid recap and notes

The Bills grilled the Dolphins in Miami.

The Buffalo Bills vented a lot of frustrations on their favorite target, the Miami Dolphins, bullying them into submission in a 35-0 win. Last week’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers left a bitter taste lingering in Buffalo, and the Bills responded exactly how they should’ve against their divisional rivals.

The game couldn’t have started much better for the Bills. On Miami’s opening drive, the Bills sacked Tua Tagovailoa twice to force a three-and-out. Isaiah McKenzie returned the punt 20 yards into Miami territory, Two plays later, Devin Singletary broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run.

On Miami’s next drive, the Dolphins were held down to a 4th-&-2, and Tagovailoa took a brutal hit from A.J. Epenesa while throwing an incomplete pass. That hit injured his ribs and knocked him out of the game. The Bills followed that up with a seven-play, 52-yard drive. Josh Allen, flushed from the pocket, threw back across his body to a wide-open Stefon Diggs for another touchdown.

From there, the Miami defense caught up to Buffalo’s defensive performance. The drive chart for the rest of the half:

  • Miami - three-and-out
  • Buffalo - Zack Moss fumble, recovered by the defense
  • Miami - Jacoby Brissett intercepted by Levi Wallace
  • Buffalo - three-and-out
  • Miami - Jakeem Grant fumble, recovered by the defense
  • Buffalo - Josh Allen intercepted by Xavien Howard
  • Miami - four-and-out, turnover on downs
  • Buffalo - three-and-out
  • Miami - intentional grounding takes them out of field goal range, forcing a punt
  • Buffalo - three-and-out
  • Miami - muffed the punt, recovered by Buffalo
  • Buffalo - three-and-out, and missed field goal

Yes, this was shaping up to be one of the best defensive showdowns of the year. The Bills had a 14-point lead at halftime, but they knew all too well how a two-score lead could be erased, witnessing it last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. So it was reassuring when they came out of the locker room and Josh Allen put together a touchdown drive. He was six-of-seven for 56 yards on the drive, ultimately finishing up with an eight-yard pass to Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone. With a 21-0 lead, the Bills could exhale a little bit.

The Dolphins weren’t able to find their own offensive answer on the next drive, gaining 16 yards on five plays and punting. A penalty pushed the Bills a little further downfield, but they punted right back on their next drive. Miami scuffled again on their next go. They gained one first down, and tried going for it on 4th-&-2, but the attempt was snuffed out by Taron Johnson.

That meant the Bills had the ball and a short field remaining, and that gave them a little more confidence in their offense. Allen and Zack Moss mixed it up on the next possession, which crossed the rest of the field and finished with Moss making a punishing seven-yard touchdown run.

The Bills now led 28-0 early in the fourth quarter. But their defense wasn’t taking a break. They sacked Jacoby Brissett twice on the next drive to force another punt. Allen started his drive with an underthrown pass, but Stefon Diggs adjusted beautifully for a 41-yard catch. The Bills ran their way to the edge of the end zone, and Moss won the battle of physics to score a one-yard touchdown and extend the lead even further.

The Bills rotated in their backup defenders at that point, which gave Miami one more chance to try and score some points. They brought the ball all the way to the red zone on a 12-play drive, but on fourth down, Jacoby Brissett’s pass was dropped by Salvon Ahmed, preserving the shutout.

With the win, the Bills even out the divisional standings at 1-1, dropping the Dolphins to 1-1. They’re back on track for the rest of their season, even if their offense still hasn’t found its 2020 form.

Injury report

  • Not Bills related, but Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa suffered a rib injury on an A.J. Epenesa sack in the first quarter and didn’t return to the game. That’s a major blow to the Dolphins’ plan.
  • Levi Wallace had his right leg cramp up early in the second quarter and limped off the field with trainers. The Bills said he was probable to return since it was a cramp—it’s over 90 degrees and humid in Miami today.
  • The heat impacted another Bills defender. Tremaine Edmunds wasn’t able to come out of the locker room after halftime, because he was still getting an IV to replenish his fluids. A.J. Klein stepped in for him in the meantime.

Quick hits

  • Last year, Devin Singletary only had a single play gain more than 40 yards, and it didn’t happen until mid-December, in garbage time of a win over the Broncos. This year, he had a 46-yard touchdown carry on his first carry of Week 2.
  • Though Singletary was the starter, the Bills worked Zack Moss into the game plan in the first quarter, giving him two carries and a pass all in a row. But Moss fumbled his catch, turning it over to the defense. The Bills didn’t give up on Moss, bringing him back on key short runs and goal line appearances later in the game.
  • Levi Wallace made a textbook pass breakup in the first quarter, but his celebration was too much for the referees, who docked him 15 yards for taunting the receiver. He made up for it two plays later, intercepting Jacoby Brissett’s pass to kill the drive.
  • Dane Jackson filled in for a cramping Wallace late in the second quarter, and though the Dolphins didn’t test him in coverage, he made a huge play in stopping a fourth-down run in the red zone. The Dolphins could’ve had three points or extended a drive for a touchdown, but instead they got nothing.
  • Tyler Bass’s run at a franchise record fell just short. Aiming for a field goal that would’ve tied him with Rian Lindell for the most consecutive (regular season) field goals, Bass’s 53-yard attempt was nowhere close. His streak ends at 17.
  • Josh Allen reached 10,000 career passing yards today, in his 45th career game. As the team announced, that was the same game that Jim Kelly reached his ten thousandth passing yard milestone.
  • Taron Johnson might be the MVP of today’s game. He had a sack, a forced fumble, a pass breakup on fourth down, and another pass breakup.
  • Today was the coming-out party for second year edge rusher A.J. Epenesa. He didn’t have a sack, but created a sack on one play and knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of the game on another play.
  • Congrats go out to rookie Greg Rousseau, who had his first two sacks of his career today.
  • The Bills were relentless in bringing LB and DB blitzes off the edge in this game. It netted them six sacks and 11 QB hits.
  • The Bills rotated in their backups for the remaining seven minutes of the game, after bringing the score up to a 35-0 lead.
  • The Bills have now won five consecutive games against their divisional rival, and have won eight of nine against the ‘Fins since head coach Sean McDermott took over in 2017. The only loss, in 2018, came when Charles Clay couldn’t haul in a deep pass in the fourth quarter.
  • This 35-0 win is the largest shutout win that the Bills have had against Miami since November 6, 1966.

Next week

The Bills host the 1-1 Washington Football Team on Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT. Washington won Thursday on a last-second field goal to defeat the Giants, 30-29. It was their first win of the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick won’t be able to play, landing on IR with a hip injury, so Taylor Heinicke will be the starter.