After two statement wins to start the season, the Buffalo Bills fell to the Miami Dolphins 21-19 after time ran out on their last possession, ending all chances of a potential game-winning field goal. Coming into the matchup, the Bills were missing six defensive starters and center Mitch Morse on offense. The expectations weren’t as high as normal for Bills Mafia because the entire secondary outside of nickel cornerback Taron Johnson was injured. But one thought persisted in the back of everyone’s minds: “We still have Josh Allen.”
Unfortunately, Allen wasn’t enough. Heat played a major factor in this game as the Bills’ entire sideline was exposed to the sun while the Dolphins’ sideline sat in the shade. Multiple Bills players experienced cramping and heat illness but, at the end of the day, the Bills missed on way too many easy opportunities to secure the win—and the heat also affected some on the Dolphins’ side.
No excuses, Bills Mafia. We’ll see them Week 15 in Buffalo and set up snow machines only on their sidelines.
Offense (92 snaps)
Entering the game, the only worry the Bills had on offense was center Mitch Morse sidelined, with center Greg Van Roten taking over snap duties. Van Roten had some wild snaps among just 38 snaps played in Week 2, and Bills Mafia was understandably concerned.
Left tackle Dion Dawkins is the only player to log 100% of snaps in all three games this season. As painful as it was to watch so many players get injured, we have to be grateful for Dawkins’s health and availability right now. Veteran guard Roger Saffold also logged 100% of snaps, which was nice to keep that left side of the line completely intact. Right tackle Spencer Brown exited the game early due to heat illness and then both guard Ryan Bates and Van Roten left the game due to injuries. At one point, the Bills’ offensive line consisted of Dawkins-Saffold-Mancz-Doyle-Quessenberry. If another lineman were to get hurt, it’s likely that fullback Reggie Gilliam was next man up.
Wide receiver Gabe Davis led the way in receiver snaps (96%) yet only saw six targets. Allen threw the ball 63 times and Davis was on the field for 96% of those but ended up with a very unproductive stat line. He also dropped an easy touchdown that surely would’ve made a difference given the final score. It’s promising that he was coming off injury and was the most available receiver for the offense, because even wide receiver Stefon Diggs experienced cramps multiple times. Wide receiver Jake Kumerow took a hard hit to his knee early in the game and was unable to return, which hurt both the offense and special teams. The Isaiah McKenzie-Jamison Crowder split at receiver still stands true with McKenzie logging just two more snaps yet being way more effective. He made some big plays when it mattered, but ultimately made the biggest mistake by not getting out of bounds on the last possession. We can blame McKenzie all we want but if we’re being honest, the Bills beat themselves with all the opportunities they had.
Running back Devin Singletary has cemented himself as the RB1 in this offense, logging the most running back snaps in three straight weeks (73%). The running game was not humming at all, totaling only 115 yards with Allen leading the way. Singletary did mark his new career-highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (78). Running backs Zack Moss and James Cook combined for just 27 snaps, with the majority of Cooks’s snaps coming from the slot or out wide.
Tight end Dawson Knox was sidelined for a short portion of the game with tight end Quintin Morris taking over the role when he was needed. Both were lackluster in terms of production but at least they were available and aren’t walking away with any significant injuries. Health is all that matters right now.
Defense (43 snaps)
The defense was the ultimate worry coming into this game. We saw what the Dolphins’ receivers did in the fourth quarter of Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens. Without safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Dane Jackson, and defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips, we knew the team was potentially facing a rough outing.
Safeties Ja’Quan Johnson and Damar Hamlin logged 100% of snaps and, to be honest, they didn’t do too bad. Obviously, there were some plays where Bills Mafia all collectively whispered “Hyde makes that play” — like quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s only touchdown pass or the 45-yard pass to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle on a 3rd & LONG.
The Bills came into this game with two rookie corners, one being a seventh-rounder, responsible for guarding both Waddle and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Rookie corner Kaiir Elam played every single snap and essentially took Hill out of the game. It was a huge litmus test for the rookie in his first ever NFL start and he didn’t mess around, holding Hill to just two catches for 33 yards. The other rookie corner, Christian Benford, got injured early in the game, explaining his low snap percentage (44%). When he went out, the Bills resorted to undrafted rookie corner Ja’Marcus Ingram (from the University at Buffalo), who logged 24 total snaps.
With both Phillips and Oliver sidelined, the defensive tackle depth was tested. Veteran defensive tackle Da’Quan Jones led the entire defensive line in snaps (33) with EDGE Von Miller right behind (32). Miller was completely shut down by Miami’s Terron Armstead but defensive end Greg Rousseau had a very good defensive day on 63% of snaps, and was the only one to really apply consistent pressure.
The trustworthy linebacker duo of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano stayed healthy and logged 100% of snaps. Let's not talk about Milano’s dropped pick-six though.
Special Teams (22 snaps)
FB Reggie Gilliam, S Siran Neal, RB Taiwan Jones, LB Tyler Matakevich, LB Tyrel Dodson: 16 snaps, 73%
TE Quintin Morris (14 snaps, 64%), DB Cam Lewis (12 snaps, 55%), DB Christian Benford: 7 snaps, 32%
Not a surprise but the usual special teams players highlighted the top of the snap percentages. Due to so many injuries before and during the game, some unfamiliar faces logged special teams snaps like defensive backs Cam Lewis (55%) and Christian Benford (32%).
Punter Sam Martin only punted once this time around, so the Bills still rarely punt. But that stat only matters when you win.