We figured the Bills were gonna lose at some point, but did it have to be to the Miami Dolphins for cripe’s sake? The rivalry is now back for sure.
Despite the Bills long injury list that included 5 defensive starters and more victims of the South Florida heat for both teams during the game, the Bills can only shake their heads at the missed opportunities in their stunning 21-19 loss in Miami, a loss that ended the Bills 7 game winning streak against the Fins, but also moved Miami into first place in the AFC East at 3-0. The Bills are second at 2-1 as the Pats and Jets both fell to 1-2.
Statistics are often misleading, but in this case it’s downright bizarre the Bills didn’t win this game. They controlled the ball nearly 41 minutes and outgained the Dolphins 497 yards to 212. The Bills ran an astonishing 90 plays to Miami’s 39.
Turnovers were the difference. The Bills failure to get any and the Dolphins ability to get an early one that mattered. After the Bills took the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown for the NFL leading 8th straight game, they forced a punt and had the ball again. But Josh Allen was blindsided and lost the ball about the 5 yard line and the Fins converted that into an easy TD.
Other than that, Allen was incredible in the near 100 degree heat. He threw for 400 yards with two TD’s and no picks and rushed for another 47 yards to extend some key drives. Allen had xrays on his right throwing hand but he said after the game he’s fine.
The surprise about Miami was two fold. The Bills injury riddled defense limited Tua Tagovailoa to only 186 yards on 13-18 passing, but Tua did give us the idea he might be a formidable foe afterall. Not in Allens’ class, but dangerous. The Bills focus on Tyreek Hill was effective holding the former Chiefs cheeta to two catches for 33 yards. But his opposite number, former Alabama star Jaylin Waddle, made some chunk plays to extend drives, with four catches for 102 yards. The Dolphins played an extremely physical game, often forcing Allen to scramble while sacking him four times.
The Bills left points on the board. Usually reliable kicker Tyler Bass hit a 30 yard FG early in the game, but missed one badly from 39 yards in the 4th quarter. Allen also hit Gabe Davis with an apparent TD that was ruled incomplete after he’d taken a couple steps in the end zone and had the ball knocked out. It deserved another look but the Bills never challenged it. Maybe worst of all in the second half, with Tagovailoa back after being knocked woozy by a Matt Milano hit in the 2nd quarter, Milano stepped in front of a pass with a clear shot to the end zone, but it went off his chest.
Critics will point out this game extends a streak of losing close games to quality opponents on the road, as the wins in the past 20 games have come in double digits.
It’s a fair criticism, but doesn’t change the fact the Bills are still the best team in the AFC and probably the NFL by any measurable standard. Hopefully some of the walking wounded will return in time for next Sunday’s game at Baltimore, as the Ravens picked off Mac Jones 3 times in a 37-26 win at New England to move to 2-1.
So, the Bills-Dolphins rematch is a “thing” again. It actually makes things interesting. The rematch comes at Highmark Stadium December 18th, when the weather is always balmy in Western New York. With 14 games to go in the regular season, ALL the Bills lofty goals are very much alive.
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