1) Momentum swing in second quarter
The Buffalo Bills dictated the pace of play and outplayed the Dolphins for most of the afternoon, finally putting the game away in second half by a score of 37-20. But there was a sequence in the second quarter where the game might have possibly shifted in Miami’s favor. After the defense forced its first three and out of the first half, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found receiver DeVante Parker for a 50-yard gain. The Parker catch-and-run set up the offense at the 12-yard line and two plays later Kalen Ballage scored from two yards out making the score 16-7 Buffalo. Placekicker Jason Sanders then followed that score with a perfect on-side kick, recovering his own boot, and set up the Dolphins offense with its best starting field position of the day. From there own 47-yard line, Fitzpatrick threw a strike to a streaking Allen Hurns, who caught the pass, but then bobbled it away inside the Bills 25-yard line. Hurns seemed to knock the ball out of his own hands while trying to make the most out of his run after the catch opportunity. The ball was recovered by safety Jordan Poyer at the 25-yard line. From there, quarterback Josh Allen orchestrated a six-play, 75-yard drive, that ended in a touchdown pass to tight end Dawson Knox pushing the Buffalo lead to 23-7. Miami had a chance to cut the Bills lead to just two points late in the second quarter, but the offensive fumble and lack of sudden-change defense allowed the Bills to score and extend their lead.
2) Grant adds excitement
The above sequence did take some of the momentum away from the Dolphins, but Miami did find a way to strike just before halftime. Jakeem Grant doesn’t get many clean chances to return kickoffs, but he made the most of one chance against Buffalo. His 101-yard kick return for a touchdown with just over a minute remaining in the first half was a thing of beauty. Grant started up the Dolphins sideline, but reversed course by cutting across the field and using his blazing speed to out run the Bills specialists and sprint into the end zone for the score. The kickoff return score was the second of Grant’s career and his fourth special teams return touchdown as a Dolphin. Jakeem’s four special teams touchdowns set a new Dolphins franchise record, breaking the mark of three set by WR Ted Ginn Jr. (2 kickoff returns and 1 punt return), RB Freddie Solomon (1 kickoff return and 2 punt returns) and RB Mercury Morris (3 kickoff returns).
3) Line play disappoints
The Buffalo Bills played a physical style of football on both sides of the line of scrimmage and that played a major role in their 37-20 victory. The Miami offensive line had some difficulty identifying their blocking assignments, sometimes allowing Bills defenders a free run at Ryan Fitzpatrick. The seven sacks against the Dolphins were the result of a heavy dose of blitzing and missed assignments up front. Fitzpatrick did his best when avoiding pressure, but the negative yards stalled many drives, forcing six punts and losing decent field position throughout the game. The running game never got started and that also led to more pressure packages in obvious passing situations. Defensively, the Dolphins never really made Josh Allen feel uncomfortable. Allen had ample time to find his receivers down field for big plays and when things did break down, he used his athletic ability to scramble past Miami defenders with little resistance. In a game where the Dolphins defense needed to apply pressure to force some accuracy issue upon Allen, they came away empty, not recording a single sack against the second year quarterback.