Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Dolphins


For the 11th time in franchise history, the Buffalo Bills have started a season at least 5-1 thanks to a 31-21 win over the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field.

With another win, we start with the Arrows Up for the Bills from Sunday: 


  • CB - Tre’Davious White

In most games, it’s hard to pick one player who really stood out on the Bills defense, because they play such great team ball. This Sunday was clearly White who did, and made two huge, game-changing plays. The first was an interception just outside the Bills' goal line, preventing Miami from going up 21-9 in the third quarter. Then, he stripped the ball loose from wide receiver Preston Williams, allowing teammate Jerry Hughes to recover. White finished the game with five total tackles, the interception, the forced fumble, and another pass defended. He also made an impact that didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick clearly went away from White and targeted receivers covered by other defensive backs most of the game. 

  • Josh Allen’s second half

After a very average, at best, first half, Josh Allen was terrific in the final two quarters, especially over the last 20 minutes, because the Bills didn’t even get the ball until there were five minutes remaining in the third quarter, courtesy of the White interception. Allen’s second half numbers: 10-of-11 for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a two-point conversion. 

  • Micah Hyde’s kick return

Hyde made an incredibly athletic play to go up and get the ball while spinning mid-air, then coming down and keeping his balance and ultimately taking it to the house. He acknowledged after the game he should have gone down and allowed the remaining 1:38 to run out, but he saw a gaping end zone with no one in front of him and finished the scoring. 

  • RB - Frank Gore

He only had 11 carries, but Frank Gore did the most with them, rushing for 55 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per-run. 

  • WR - John Brown

Brown was stellar once again for the Bills, collecting five catches for 83 yards and scoring the very important touchdown that gave them the lead early in the fourth quarter. 

  • K - Stephen Hauschka

"Hausch-Money" was just that all day. Consistent and steady, adding plenty of points that were ultimately needed in the end. Hauschka converted all three of his field goal attempts, both of his extra-point attempts, and also kicked six of seven balls for touchbacks on kickoffs. The only one he didn’t was placed perfectly up in the air to allow only a 12-yard return.



  • First half play-calling

It just seemed like Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll got way too cute in the first half. Too many times he called for designed runs for Allen, then called a low percentage pass on 3rd-and-1 while inside the Dolphins' red zone. 

  • Lack of touches for Devin Singletary

Granted, it was Singletary‘s first game back from a hamstring injury, but also after he had missed four weeks, including the bye week. However, he is such a different element and dynamic to the offense. It was disappointing to see him only carry the ball seven times and not even targeted once in the passing game. 

  • Third down offense

The Bills were awful on third down most of the game, converting only three of their 10 chances overall (30%). 

  • Third down defense

On the flip side, the Bills defense allowed Miami to convert far too many third downs - 54% of them overall - going 7-for-13 on the day. The Dolphins also converted twice on fourth down, combining their third and fourth down conversion rate to go 9-for-15 overall (60%). 

  • Long drives allowed

The Dolphins put together drives of 70, 60, 71, and 59 yards, and those drives covered plenty of plays in time, allowing them to eat up the clock and overall time of possession. They scored touchdowns on three of those four drives. The one in which they didn’t was the White interception. 

  • Penalties

The Bills committed nine penalties for 83 yards. They were already allowing the Dolphins to not have too much life, but helped them out themselves by not being disciplined and giving Miami free yards.


I suspect for most of the early part of this week, while people are still reacting to the game, there will be two basic reactions:

  1. "LOL they played so terrible. If they play like that next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, they lose. They’re not as good as people thought." 
  2. “Hey, who gives a darn? It’s all about getting the 'W,' and that’s what they did!”

Of course, both of those reactions are right. You can be and should be very happy with, yet, another victory for the Bills, moving to 5-1 and, with every passing week, inching closer to a playoff berth. However, there’s nothing wrong with also being upset and concerned that they not only let Miami hang around in this one, but came dangerously close to reading about a loss.

The truth is, if the Bills play like they did for the first two and a half quarters in this one, they won’t beat many teams in the National Football League. The reality is also that this game is over, and that doesn’t mean they’re going to play like that next week, or the week after, etc. As I say all the time, every single game has its own DNA and plays out differently. This one just played out too close for comfort for most Bills fans, considering the opponent.

Was it having a week off and being out of routine? Was it some good old "FitzMagic"? Was it poor game-planning by the coaches? Was it not having the same sort of edge and intensity because they were facing a winless opponent? Was it simply facing a team that was really, really desperate to finally get their first win?

Maybe it was all of the above. Whatever the reason, the Bills played flat and lifeless for 40-of-60 minutes, making too many mistakes and not enough plays. They certainly will have to play better next week, and going forward. But they also can.

At the end of the day, they found a way to get it done in the fourth quarter once again. Allen played his best football when his team needed him most, and the defense and special teams closed the deal.

This one is over. They didn’t dominate as expected, but they took care of business.

It all adds up to being 5-1 with a brand new week ahead against a disappointing Eagles team, who will be looking to get back on track.

6-1 would be a pretty remarkable record to have, and they have a legitimate shot to do it, but they’ll have to play better than they did Sunday to get there.

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