Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - As regular season games go, especially one as early in the season as this Week 4 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, it’d be hard to top the amount of juice this game had going in.
We’ve got a rivalry that dates back to my childhood, and I am old! Despite a long period of dormancy, it has flared back up again in the past few seasons.
Playoff games will do that for a rivalry.
Of course, as has been talked about all week, the Dolphins were coming in red-hot after a mind-boggling 70-point performance last week, annihilating the Denver Broncos. Now here were the Bills, looking to restore order in the AFC East and avoid falling two-and-a-half games behind Miami.
Pretty big swing between tying the Dolphins for the lead in the division and that.
For a value added storyline, we’ve also got Bills head coach Sean McDermott having taken over the defensive play-calling for the first time. His record is excellent since taking over the Bills in 2017. That said, playoff losses have pushed some observers to get a little twitchy about McDermott.
Buffalo's defense has been mostly excellent in the season-long rankings year-over-year, but just containing this Miami offense - let alone throttling them - would go a long way with the fans hungry to see some sign they’re defensive-minded head coach gives them some advantage in a matchup with an offense that has been the talk of the NFL.
Well I don’t know about throttling, but McDermott’s defense needed a little more than a quarter in this game to stabilize and eventually takeover while cruising to a 48-20 win.
Yes, Miami got their yards - 393 to be exact - but after their second-straight touchdown to start the game, the Dolphins lost their mojo and McDermott’s defense was the cause.
Tua Tagovailoa still made some great throws and found some schemed open receivers quickly, but often enough, the Bills either got to the Dolphins quarterback effectively or confused him off his very dangerous first read.
The Bills defense was especially effective on third and fourth downs, holding Miami to 3-of-10 on third down chances and 0-for-3 on fourth downs. The Bills also picked up two of their four sacks on the day on fourth downs to end Miami possessions.
Coming off a gaudy nine-sack outing last week in Washington, maybe four sacks don't sound like much. Consider, however, Tagovailoa had only been sacked once in three games prior to facing the Bills. Greg Rousseau had a pair, while Ed Oliver and DaQuan Jones each had one from the middle of the defensive front.
Oliver has been an absolute menace so far this season after agreeing to a contract extension in June that was not exactly universally praised. Good on him for looking like he’s on his way to a career year after signing a new contract.
At this point, I’d like to take a moment to apologize for writing so many words already. I mean, look at ‘em all, and not one of them have yet to mention Josh Allen.
The Bills quarterback effectively told Tagovaila, Mike McDaniel and the rest of the Dolphins to hold his beer while he set about restoring order in the AFC East.
Allen was ridiculously great in this game. A striking balance of under control and spectacular, sometimes at the same time. Allen threw the football all over the field, dismantling the vaunted Vic Fangio defense.
The sixth-year starter was responsible for more touchdowns than incompletions on Sunday, going 21-of-25 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, while also registering a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He also accounted for a rushing touchdown in, yet, another AFC Offensive Player of the Week-type performance.
Oh, and Stefon Diggs had himself a day too, catching six Allen passes for 120 yards and three touchdowns.