Well, talk of an undefeated season will have to wait another season. The Buffalo Bills dropped their first game of the 2022 NFL season to the Miami Dolphins in swampy, hellacious South Beach.
Things started as the Bills have become used to this season: They received the ball and immediately involved wide receiver Stephon Diggs. The story of today’s game will largely be about the injuries and the replacements. I lost count of the figures for both by the fourth quarter. There might be some discussion about that heat—a borderline suicidal 100+ on the turf of South Beach. But what might somehow get lost in everything is the game that quarterback Josh Allen just played. His day? An epic 42/63 for 400 yard and two touchdowns; eight rushes for 47 yards.
Josh Allen seemed somehow immune to the Miami heat—instead constantly committed to putting the heat on the Dolphins’ defense.
It’s been a long time since a Buffalo-Miami game meant so much this early in the season. As such, the final two minutes were an incredible emotional rollercoaster. Prior to the two-minute warning, it seemed as though the Bills might just score the go-ahead touchdown on a goal-to-go scenario. They didn’t. Time began to click off the clock—perhaps their strategy all aong, but not with a run for negative yards on second down. That put pressure on the next play, which went incomplete to Diggs near the back center of the end zone due to nice breakup by Xaivan Howard. Needing more than a FG to take the lead, the offense stayed on the field for fourth down. A beautiful play call by offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey gave the offense the look they wanted. A touchdown to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie out in the flat—which fell incomplete. Turnover on downs. DEEP in Miami territory the Dolphins took over. Game over, right? Wrong. Buffalo’s defense stymied the Dolphins into a goal line terror, and out came Miami’s punting unit. Instead of taking the safety and ensuring a free kick, the Dolphins actually snapped the ball. It ended in disaster. It may have also been a smart play on their part, as it ran clock that would prove vital for the Bills’ chances.
Wide receiver Jamison Crowder received the kick at the six and took it back 17 yards to the Buffalo’s 23. There was still a chance. With 85 seconds remaining following the stand on defense, Josh Allen and the offense would muster up a nine-play, 46-yard drive that came up just short a second for a try at the winning field goal. The game’s final play was classic Josh Allen, who deftly avoided heavy pressure to connect with Isaiah McKenzie near the sideline. With plenty of Dolphins surrounding him, time expired before he could get out of bounds. Game over.
Incredibly, Buffalo ran 90 offensive plays to Miami’s 39. The Bills managed 497 yards and 31(!!!) first downs on offense to the Dolphins’ 212 yards of offense.
Next week the Bills are back on the road to face the Baltimore Ravens.
Points left on the field
- Was it a mistake to go for the field goal on fourth down when the Bills were up 17-14? We’ll never know, because they missed the points. I’d have preferred a try for more downs, but points were at a premium today. Those three points were deperately needed at the game’s end.
- Linebacker Matt Milano, having a huge season early on, just missed on an opportunity to add a second pick-six to his 2022 ledger. His drop of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s pass was as sure of a walk-in as it gets in the NFL. More points left on the field.
It may sound as though i’m nitpicking, and I am
- It’s difficult to criticize Josh Allen for anything. The man is Hurclean in his football efforts. But the decision he made early in the game to throw backed up towards the team’s endzone was ill-advised and unnecessary. It was also a fumble. Sure, Allen was likely just trying to avoid the pressure and sack, but it would have been best to take the sack and move on. All that means is that I believe we’ve yet to see the best of who and what “Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills” can become.
- Miami was great today stopping the Bills’ most dangerous receivers. Stefon Diggs had his catches and a good amount of yards (7/74), but he was unstoppable to the tune of four incompletions and no touchdowns. The same story is true of Gabe Davis, who had a very quiet return to the field with three catches for 37 yards on six targets.
- The Bills used every single offensive lineman on today’s active roster. Every. Single. One. I’ve followed this team for a very long time. I can’t ever remember a game where every o-lineman was used. This includes some of those nasty early 90s games against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Running back Devin Singletary had himself a career day as a receiver out of the backfield with nine catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. The chatter about his inability to contribute as a receiver seems to have aged poorly.
- Speaking of runners, running back Zack Moss had a great game in his return home. While much of his game rests on the one play, it was an incredibly long play. Moss is clearly far healthier than he was in 2021.
- The Bills held an incredible advantage in time of possession—40:40. It’s uncertain if they did so to keep Miami’s dynamic recievers off the field, or if they simply found it tough sledding to go down the field with quick precision. Either way, it limited the amount of drives they had, and the best of what’s been all the rage for the Bills is the number of points they put up in games—and quickly. So, it’s possible they kicked themselves in the scoring foot today.
- Buffalo’s defense did a masterful job taking away Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill. He finished with two catches for 33 yards.
- For as well as it did stopping Hill, the defense seemed incapable of doing so with wide receiver Jalen Waddle. Through the half and much of the third quarter, Waddle was held in check. All it took was one drive to remind everyone how explosive a player he is—a drive where he had almost 80 yards on two receptions.
- Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the talk of the town in the leadup to this game. It was deserved considering the career day he had through the air. But on Sunday afternoon against the Bills, Tagovailoa was simply average, going 13/18 for 186 yards and a touchdown. Tua’s certain to have more great days ahead of him, but today was a reminder he has a ways to go to reach the game’s elite.