clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bills vs Dolphins film review: Missed opportunities

Close only counts in horseshoes

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins. Looking into the statistics one would think that the Bills dominated the Dolphins:

These numbers are staggering. The Bills double the Dolphins in every category I listed! But the only numbers that really matter are 21-19. Dolphins beat the Bills. In close games like these, it comes down to a couple of plays going the right way or the wrong way, Let's take a look at some of those plays that didn’t go Buffalo’s way.

The “no spike” at the end of the first half

This one comes down to the lack of continuity between quarterback Josh Allen and center Greg Van Roten. Van Roten was playing center for injured starting center Mitch Morse. Looking at this play you may wonder why Allen just didn’t spike the ball after he gained control of the bobbled snap. If we take a look at the NFL rule book, it states, “Stopping Clock. A player under center is permitted to stop the game clock legally to save time if, immediately upon receiving the snap, he begins a continuous throwing motion and throws the ball directly into the ground.” It appears that Allen was aware of this rule and thought he would be called for a penalty if he tried to spike it after the bobbled snap. Looking back at this play, after he gathered the snap and turned around, he still had two seconds left on the clock. He potentially could have thrown it at tight end Dawson Knox’s feet to stop the clock before it ran out. However, Allen’s decision was not the problem—a better snap would have solved the problem.

Gabe Davis’s almost touchdown

The Bills kicked a field goal on their first drive of the second half, but they were this close to having a touchdown instead. A nice catch by wide receiver Gabe Davis was spoiled with a better play by Dolphins cornerback Keion Crossen. Davis had the touchdown basically completed before Crossen stuck his hand right on the ball and ripped it out. Props to Crossen for not giving up on the play even though it looked like he was toast. Great play.

Matt Milano’s dropped pick-six

Linebacker Matt Milano must have had flashbacks of his interception last week as soon as he stepped in front of a pass from Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the third quarter, except this time he dropped the ball. Milano makes a great play by carrying the seam route until he sees Tua start to throw, and then he breaks on the slant route underneath. Bills fans quickly went from arms up celebrating to hands on their heads in disbelief. This play certainly would have been a game changer.

Tyler Bass’s missed field goal

The snap is good, the hold is perfect, and the kick is... blocked? Watching this game live, I thought kicker Tyler Bass just plain missed it. But looking back it appears to be blocked by Miami. In the slow-motion replay, it looks like a Dolphins player gets a hand on the ball because of the way it redirects. Also, at the end of the clip pay attention to holder Sam Martin—he appears to signal that the kick was blocked.

Missed touchdown pass to McKenzie

Josh Allen just missed a throw on this play, plain and simple. I think Allen was trying to get it to his first read on the play, Gabe Davis. Then, when he saw wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie open he rushed the throw and was off balance. If you look closely, at some point in this play every wide receiver appears to be open. If this ended up as a touchdown instead of an incompletion, it would likely have been the game-winner for the Bills.

Last play of the game

I’m going to show two clips here. The first one will be the play before the “no spike” play at the end of the first half. The second clip will be the last play of the game.

Take note of McKenzie catching the ball and going straight to the ground. Also, take note that they were able to run another play after starting the play with 14 seconds left.

It’s interesting to see that at the end of the first half McKenzie caught the ball and dove forward to end the play so the Bills could hurry up and spike the ball to try and kick a field goal. However, at the end of the game, this was not the case. Hindsight is 20/20. I don’t blame McKenzie for trying to get out of bounds, for a moment it looked like he was going to get to the sideline. Hypothetically, if McKenzie catches the pass at the end of the game and turns straight up the field, he most likely gets somewhere between the 40- and 45-yard line. this would leave the Bills with roughly a 60-yard field goal attempt. Not to mention, if Allen was given some time from the offensive line he might have seen Stefon Diggs wide open at the 37-yard line. Either way, the Bills should have been able to run more than one play with 18 seconds left on the clock.


I don’t want to live in the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” world, and neither should you. Give the Miami Dolphins credit, they won the game and played well on defense. The Buffalo Bills looked like the better team and had to deal with a LOT of adversity, but they need to figure out how to win one-score games, and plays like these make the difference.