All week long, the Buffalo Bills heard about the impressive nature of the Miami Dolphins offense. And all week long, the players and coaches acted like none of that talk bothered them. However, for 60 minutes of play on Sunday, the Bills showed quite clearly that, regardless of the shiny new toy in town, the AFC East still runs through Orchard Park, NY.
In their 48-20 demolition of the division-rival Dolphins, Buffalo dominated in all three phases of the game. The Bills were able to slow Miami’s juggernaut offense while they also dismantled the new-look Dolphins defense. Miami had no answers for quarterback Josh Allen, and the Bills seemed to have all the answers for head coach Mike McDaniel’s vaunted offensive attack.
In such a total team effort, it’s hard to capture all of the great performances the Bills had. While there were plenty of players who deserve recognition who weren’t among our five players to watch, those on our list were all key contributors in the victory.
Here’s how our five Bills to watch fared this week.
WR Gabe Davis
“Big Play Gabe,” as announcer Tony Romo is fond of calling him, certainly seems to love games announced by CBS’ top duo. Davis opened the scoring this week on a beautifully designed wheel route in the red zone, as Josh Allen gave a little shoulder-shimmy to hold the defenders while Davis ran a perfect route up the sideline. The 18-yard pass was one of three grabs Davis had on the day, as he caught all of his targets for 61 yards. His longest catch was a 34-yard grab of play-action after the Bills forced a turnover-on-downs late in the third quarter. Given that they began the drive on Miami’s 45-yard line, it was prime shot-play territory, and the call set up Buffalo’s final score of the day, an 11-yard touchdown run by Allen. Buffalo’s offense wasn’t all Allen to Stefon Diggs, but it sure was a lot of it — Diggs had six grabs on seven targets for 120 yards and three touchdowns — but the Dolphins were unable to shut down Allen’s other options, as well. Buffalo’s quarterback had as many touchdown passes (4) as he did incomplete passes. The fact that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio seemed content to keep top corner Xavier Howard on Davis while Diggs kept cooking Kader Kohou is something I can’t exactly understand, but it’s also not something I’m going to complain about, either.
DT DaQuan Jones
Yes, fellow defensive tackle Ed Oliver has received much of the attention, and with good reason, as Oliver is a self-described NSFW person now that he’s healthy. However, Jones has been quietly incredible for the entirety of his time in Buffalo, and he’s off to a phenomenal start here this year, as well. Jones was Buffalo’s highest-graded player on Sunday by Pro Football Focus, earning a 91.2 grade overall for his performance. He totaled two tackles, two quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and one sack. But it’s his ability to clear space for his teammates that really makes Jones so special. The fact that Jones has been able to notch 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and four pressures from his spot as the one-tech in this defense is incredible. As Jones himself said, though, he is also a NSFW type of person now that he’s in a system like Buffalo’s.
LB Matt Milano
This is how good Milano is: He had ten tackles and a forced fumble in Sunday’s win, and it felt a little bit like a “ho-hum” kind of game from him. Milano does so many things well and makes so many plays by flying aggressively all over the field that it’s easy to take him for granted while we watch him every Sunday. But my goodness is he special. The way that he and new middle linebacker Terrel Bernard have seamlessly integrated into each other’s game is also impressive, as the communication has been crisp, the shifts have been excellent, and the downhill play has continued to look better and better throughout the season. Milano is now second on the team in tackles with 27, but he leads the squad in solo tackles with 15.
LB Terrel Bernard
Well, four games into the season, and it’s pretty clear that Buffalo has found a more-than-suitable replacement for the departed Tremaine Edmunds — and, so far, that replacement has actually been an upgrade. Bernard had five tackles in this one, and he very nearly added a third interception to his ledger in the first quarter. Bernard nearly one-handed a pass by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa over the middle, but he was unable to snare it and it fell into the arms of a diving Jaylen Waddle for a great catch. Bernard was able to recover a fumble forced by Taron Johnson in the second half, snuffing out any hopes Miami had of making the game somewhat reasonable in score. He leads the team so far with 29 tackles.
CB Tre’Davious White
Oh, man. White was playing really well, and he was on his way to another stellar game. However, in the third quarter, White went down after grabbing at his ankle, and he was carted off in obvious emotional distress. On Monday, the team confirmed what we all thought we knew: White suffered an Achilles tendon tear that will cause him to miss the rest of the 2023 season. He’ll rehab and try to be ready for his age-29 season next year, but this is a huge blow to the defense, both from a talent and a leadership perspective. Cornerback Kaiir Elam will certainly be active now, and head coach Sean McDermott needs to decide whether it’ll be him or Dane Jackson stepping in for White. Jackson, for his part, did a fine job on Sunday. White finished his day with three tackles, a quarterback hit, and a pass breakup. He finishes the 2023 season with 12 tackles, two pass breakups, and an interception, having allowed eight of 13 passes thrown his way to be completed for 48 yards and two touchdowns.