Report card: Bills top Dolphins 24-16
By: Nick Wojton
ORCHARD PARK – The Buffalo Bills did just enough on offense combined with another multi-turnover game on defense to top the Miami Dolphins 24-16 on Sunday at New Era Field.
Buffalo (8-6) has their crosshairs on ending their 17-year playoff drought and the cherry on top was knocking their AFC East rival in the Dolphins (6-8) out of the playoff picture.
Here’s how the Bills graded out in Week 15:
It wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t perfect. Tyrod Taylor went 17-for-29 for 224 yards and a touchdown pass on the afternoon. Taylor ran one in as well in a quite impressive manner on a run outside. There was more good than bad, but there were also a couple of drives where the offense looked inept, especially drives two and three when the Bills only mustered 14 total yards between the two after scoring on the first.
Running backs: C
Kudos to LeSean McCoy for topping the 10,000-yard plateau. Still, it wasn’t a good day for the running game. McCoy averaged 2.5 yards-per-carry. Only 50 yards on 20 carries. He did score and was effective in the passing game (4-46). Travaris Cadet had success on the ground in minimal work (4-24). There was an opportunity for the running game to milk the win in the second half and it did not.
Tight ends/ wide receivers: C+
In many cases, Charles Clay is Taylor’s best friend. That was the case on Sunday. Clay led the Bills with five catches and 68 yards. Nick O’Leary also had a big 25-yard catch on the opening drive. From the receiver standpoint, it was the opposite. Four catches for 57 yards for the group. Not many targets for wide outs from Taylor. Receivers had nine targets to 19 to backs and tight ends. Clay had nine alone.
Offensive line: C-
Not the best day for the offensive line. Taylor was caught running around multiple times in the pass game, despite only being sacked twice. Ndamukong Suh was a forced, with seven total tackles including three for loss. As a team, Miami had nine tackles for loss. The Bills clearly were going to run the ball in the second half and the offensive line wasn’t up to the task. McCoy had four yards on 12 carries.
Defensive line: C
Kenyan Drake had a strong day on the ground for Miami, averaging 4.9 yards-per-carry with a touchdown. Too bad the Dolphins got down and had to abandon him. Jay Cutler’s three interceptions also had little to do with pressure. On one he had all day and still managed to hit Jordan Poyer. But, Cutler did go down three times. Ryan Davis had one sack.
Tight end Anthony Fasano only had two grabs for 15 yards. Same exact stat line for Julius Thomas. Drake wasn’t kept in check. Six grabs for 35 yards along with his prior mentioned game on the ground. Preston Brown quietly had double-digit sack totals (10), plus one for a loss. Additionally, Lorenzo Alexander, Ramon Humber, and Matt Milano each had one tackle for a loss.
The easy grade here was an A. But those interceptions didn’t take much effort. Cutler threw three passes right to Poyer, Tre’Davious White, and Shareece Wright. White made the ending a bit easier on Bills fans and Wright helped Buffalo get their lone three points in the second half. However, Miami’s wide outs got their numbers from Jarvis Landry (10-99) and DeVante Parker (6-89).
Special teams: C+
Stephen Hauschka converted from 34 out. Colton Schmidt had three punts inside the 20 and a 41-yard average. But the return teams were awful. Jakeem Grant had a 26-yard return while (sorry, Preston) there is no reason Brown should have been on the field for an onside kick.