Entering play on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins were a little miffed about being underdogs to the Buffalo Bills. Or maybe it was that some people thought their great start was a fluke. Whatever the reason, they even wore some t-shirts to express their confusion. And, similar to the last time the Dolphins made some cute shirts before a trip to Orchard Park, NY, the Bills were able to come out with a big victory.
In the 48-20 drubbing of their divisional rivals, Buffalo was able to assert their dominance in all phases of the game. Not only that, but they were also able to limit each of Miami’s key players — with one notable exception.
Here’s how our five Dolphins to watch performed in the four-score loss on Sunday.
QB Tua Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa entered the game leading the NFL in most major passing categories. While he had diced up his opponents, he hadn’t played against a defense at the caliber of Buffalo’s stop unit. Tagovailoa’s numbers were just fine — he completed 25-of-35 passes for 282 yards, one touchdown, and one interception — but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the hurricane that was Josh Allen (21-of-25, 320 yards, five total touchdowns) on the other side. Tagovailoa entered the game having only been hit three times and sacked once. In this one, he was sacked four times and hit nine times. Buffalo’s defensive line continued its run of elite play, and head coach/defensive play caller Sean McDermott sprinkled in some fun cornerback blitzes to help keep Tagovailoa off balance. The Bills were able to make him hesitate just enough that he looked uncomfortable all day, and while he did throw one interception to Micah Hyde, both Terrel Bernard and Tre’Davious White dropped would-be picks that could have made this one even more of a laugher.
RB De’Von Achane
The speedy rookie definitely looked electric at times, and he was the biggest bright spot for the ‘phins on the afternoon. Even though he only had eight carries, Achane eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second-straight week. Thanks in part to a 55-yard run, Achane totaled 101 yards rushing. He also scored two touchdowns, giving him six in his last two games. The third-round rookie is definitely looking like a steal, especially as it pertains to adding more speed to a lethal Miami attack. For this week, though, his contributions were limited thanks to the Dolphins’ inability to stop Buffalo at all on the offensive end.
WR Tyreek Hill
So it’s one thing to compare the fans at Highmark Stadium to “any other fan base.” We all know that’s not true — and that’s not my Bills-fan bias talking, because everyone knows we’re all a special breed of crazy. But after putting up a very pedestrian day (Hill had three catches for 58 yards on five targets), he then gave us this magical quote, saying that Buffalo’s corners “had no fear in their eyes because they knew they had help over the top.” I never understand why guys say stuff like this after the game. Is Hill saying that, even though the Dolphins knew what defense Buffalo was playing, they couldn’t beat it? That Buffalo’s corners aren’t good enough to beat him in a way other than the way that they just beat him? Is he calling out play caller and head coach Mike McDaniel for not being able to come up with ways to put that “fear” into Buffalo’s corners? It just comes out sounding like sour grapes from a guy who was held in check by a team that beat his squad by four scores.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Waddle made one great catch, falling to the ground to snare a ball that linebacker Terrel Bernard should have intercepted. He caught four balls in total for 46 yards. However, just like Miami’s other top-end wideout, the Bills were able to slow him down, as they were content to give up shorter passes to other players while taking away those chunk plays from Miami’s top stars. Buffalo’s corners didn’t need to be afraid of Miami’s receivers — not because Miami’s wideouts aren’t incredibly talented, but because the Bills have incredibly talented players on that defense.
DT Christian Wilkins
How good is rookie right guard O’Cyrus Torrence? Wilkins had two tackles and a pass deflection. Aside from that pass knockdown, I didn’t even notice him on the field. That’s a testament to just how well Torrence played, and it’s not as if it’s been an isolated thing. He has been an absolute dawg through his first four professional games. It looks like the Bills found a great one in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.