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Three Takeaways: Dolphins Drop First Game of 2023, Lose to Buffalo 48-20

The Dolphins return to the friendly confines of Hard Rock Stadium for a pair of games after a 3-1 start.

"It's very humbling."

That was quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's thought following a difficult 48-20 defeat in Buffalo.

Here are the three takeaways from Miami's seventh-straight loss in Buffalo:

1. Josh Allen strikes again

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen seems to always play well when he faces the Dolphins and Sunday was no different. The sixth-year pro pairs unique physical traits with an intellectual grasp of defense and how to attack different structures and schemes.

For Miami, yesterday's game is an opportunity to find some answers. According to Pro Football Reference, the Dolphins missed 12 tackles in the game. Allen was rarely pressured and punished the Dolphins with five total touchdowns and 320 passing yards. The Bills eclipsed 100 yards on the ground and Stefon Diggs caught three touchdowns.

Through four weeks, Miami ranks 25th in total defense and 28th in scoring, marks they will surely try to improve as we move into the second quarter of the season.

2. Offense slowed but not stalled

From the jump, it looked like we were in for an old-fashioned shootout. The Dolphins matched the Bills' opening touchdown march and repeated the encore with another visit to the end zone.

On those two possessions, the Dolphins averaged 8.0 air yards per attempt. On the ensuing four possessions, Miami averaged just 0.1 air yards per attempt. The Dolphins battled attrition on the offensive line and in the receiver room but it just didn't seem like the same Miami offense we grew accustomed to seeing thus far in 2023.

"If you're not on your stuff and you're playing a team that is, this will happen," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said following the loss. "You play one of the best teams in the National Football League, you better not have that part of your game, otherwise you'll learn the hard way, which is what we did today."

The Bills had a great plan and executed. They varied looks and post-snap rotations forcing the offense to quickly adjust. Buffalo also had frequent one-on-one wins up front, which slowed Miami in a way we haven't seen this year. Although quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was constantly under duress, he still threw for 282 yards while completing 71.4 percent of his passes and posting a 92.8 rating.

Rookie running back De'Von Achane continues to impress. He ran for 101 yards on the ground and two scores with just eight carries, becoming just the fourth player in NFL history to total six touchdowns in his first three career games.

3. There's a lot of football left

It stings to lose to a big divisional rival on the road and there's no transitive property in the NFL. But next week will offer a new opportunity for Miami in front of a home crowd that has witnessed 13 wins in the team's last 15 games at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins still feature one of the game's most explosive offenses. They totaled 393 yards against a Buffalo defense that entered Week 4 ranked No. 2 in the league. Miami's 2,044 total yards this season are the most in NFL history through a team's first four games.

The Dolphins are tied for the best record in the AFC. They've won 31 of the last 55 overall and are one of just three NFL teams (Buffalo and Kansas City) with winning records in each of the past four seasons (2020-23).

Yes, a win at Highmark Stadium would have been nice to have but the Dolphins will have another opportunity against Buffalo in Week 18 in a venue that has been really difficult for opponents to win.

There are questions to answer and corrections to be had. But if the NFL has taught us anything, it's that the most successful teams are the ones who improve throughout the year and are playing their best football at the end of the season.

For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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