MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts from the Buffalo Bills’ 41-14 victory against the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Sun Life Stadium:
* The win wasn’t a shock. The Bills were clearly the better (and, at least going in) healthier team, last week’s loss to the Patriots notwithstanding. What was surprising was the manner in which the Bills won. It hasn’t been their way to come down here and simply maul the Dolphins the way they have done repeatedly at Ralph Wilson Stadium. That certainly wasn’t the case on a Thursday night last year, and the loss went a long way toward keeping the Bills out of the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill was no match for Buffalo’s defense, and Tyrod Taylor ran the Bills’ offense as well as any quarterback has in a long time.
* Rex Ryan got back to doing what he did in the season-opening win against Indianapolis and should have done against the Patriots: blitzing, blitzing and more blitzing. That’s Rex’s personality and he got away from it last week, mostly rushing defensive linemen because he feared Tom Brady would find too many holes in coverage vacated by blitzers. Well, Brady found holes anyway, and comfortably threw passes to the tune of 466 yards. Tannehill rarely felt such comfort, and that contributed to his throwing three interceptions, including one that Preston Brown returned 43 yards for a touchdown. The Bills only had two sacks, but Tannehill was rushed and flustered because he never could be sure of who was blitzing him and from where they were coming.
* Taylor might very well have had a transformative performance. He was solid against the Colts. He struggled for large portions of the New England game before showing some resilience in leading the Bills on a comeback that fell short. But in making the first road start of his NFL career after that three-interception, eight-sack game, Taylor had something to prove. He had to show he could shake off a crushing loss and he had to show he could handle a hostile (although that’s probably an overstatement) atmosphere. Taylor did both and he did much more. He was sensational, completing 21 of 29 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 141.5. Days after the Bills shipped off veteran backup Matt Cassel to Dallas and drew criticism for diminishing the experience of their depth behind a young starter, Taylor took a major step toward solidifying his reliability as a starter.
- * Offensive coordinator Greg Roman devised a brilliant game plan that included a mixture of short, intermediate and long throws for which the Dolphins’ defense was woefully unprepared to handle. He moved Taylor around and utilized his tremendous running ability, yet still had him do enough effective work from the pocket to thwart Miami’s strategy of keeping him contained.
* Just when it looked as if Sammy Watkins was going to become a significant factor in the offense for the first time this season, he suffered a calf injury early on and never returned after he caught a 39-yard bomb on the Bills’ second possession. The fact is, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay are Taylor’s favorite targets. Harvin consistently gains separation and is always a game-breaking threat.
* Clay gave an inspiring performance, clearly looking to show the Dolphins what they were missing by not matching the massive contract offer the Bills gave him last March, allowing him to join Buffalo as a free agent. He ran with great explosiveness and determination on a 25-yard scoring catch that gave the Bills a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
* Still nothing exciting from LeSean McCoy, who finished with a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. He didn’t look like the guy who seemed to be making progress from his hamstring injury last week. Something appeared to be bothering him Sunday. It’s safe to say that the rushing stud for the Bills so far is rookie Karlos Williams, who had 110 yards on 12 attempts, including a 41-yard touchdown in garbage time. Any doubt now why the Bills had no problem saying goodbye to the highly popular Fred Jackson?
* The Bills still have some cleaning up to do when it comes to penalties. They continue to be a bit sloppy at times, largely because they’re overaggressive. But that can happen when you’re beating up on an opponent. Unlike last week, when penalties helped put the Bills in a 24-point hole, the Bills didn’t self-destruct from them against the Dolphins.