The Dolphins scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the game for the second consecutive week Sunday, taking a quick 7-0 lead against the Buffalo Bills.
While that obviously made Head Coach Adam Gase very happy, he said Monday there’s no great secret as to the recent success in starting quickly.
“Nothing is different,” Gase said. “We executed those plays. It’s hard to explain.”
That play came on the Dolphins’ only third-down situation in the drive.
The Dolphins opened the game with a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive the previous week at Indianapolis, and now have opening-drive touchdowns in consecutive games for the first time since October 2015.
“I think anytime that you can get a lead, it helps the defense a little bit,” Gase said. “If you could ever get a big lead, that really is ideal because then the other team becomes one-dimensional. All of these games are going to be close from here on out. We just have to do a good job of playing complementary football. We can’t turn the ball over. We need to get points when our defense gets turnovers, which we haven’t done lately, and have a play or two that are impactful on special teams.”
Finding a way: The victory against Buffalo on Sunday marked the fourth time this season the Dolphins won despite being outgained by the opponent, the third time they won despite being outgained by more than 100 yards. Not surprisingly, the Dolphins won the turnover battle in all four of those games—the two games against the New York Jets and those against Oakland and Buffalo. “The amount of turnovers that our defense is getting is what we need, and then we don’t turn it over a whole bunch,” Gase said. “I think the guys have done a good job ball security-wise, making sure we don’t have fumbles. The quarterbacks have both, for the most part, done their part.” The Dolphins were plus-2 in turnover margin against Buffalo on Sunday, putting them at plus-8 on the season, tied for seventh-best in the NFL. Of the top 12 teams in turnover margin, only the Cleveland Browns have a losing record.
Injury update: Cornerback Cornell Armstrong left the game against Buffalo in the second quarter because of a knee injury and did not return, but Gase said it did not look as though the injury was severe. As for the two players who missed the Buffalo game because of injuries, wide receiver Danny Amendola and center Travis Swanson, Gase said he’d have a better idea on their progress later in the week. “Both those guys, they want to be out there, they want to be able to help us,” Gase said. “I’m sure Danny is going to want to do everything he can to be ready to go. I don’t know how realistic anything is until Thursday, maybe even Friday.” Amendola, of course, spent five seasons with the Patriots before joining the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
The last play: Gase offered his explanation as to how Bills tight end Charles Clay, who began his career with the Dolphins, ended up so alone in the end zone on the final play of the game as well as what was going through his mind as quarterback Josh Allen threw the ball in his direction. “The longer the play extends, the harder it is for everybody because everybody is trying to kind of see where he’s going,” Gase said. “We were in a zone, guys start moving and he kind of shook free. I think we just lost him. When I saw that ball go up and then I turned around and I saw who it was (Clay), I started thinking about what I was calling in two-minute. That’s a rare thing to see.” As everybody knows by now, Clay wasn’t able to corral the slightly underthrown fourth-down pass, clinching the victory for the Dolphins.
Wildcat ways: The Dolphins lined up the Wildcat formation three times against Buffalo, though they changed their mid on one occasion after Buffalo called a timeout. Kalen Ballage ran the ball on both plays after taking the shotgun snap with Ryan Tannehill lined up wide to the right, gaining 8 yards in the second quarter before losing 3 yards in the fourth quarter. “It was just the situations we were in,” Gase said. “We had a couple plays that we really liked and that’s just how the game plan was. There’s been other weeks where we’ve had it up, but then something happened to where we didn’t get to it or we got down or it just wasn’t the right time.”