There was no subtlety in Rex Ryan’s captain picks Saturday.
By choosing Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Leger Douzable, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, a clear message was being sent.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense was not going to get run over again by Miami’s Jay Ajayi.
But then it did.
Ajayi piled up 206 yards rushing – the second time he’s gone over 200 against the Bills this season – helping the Dolphins to a 34-31 overtime victory at New Era Field that buried the Bills’ playoff hopes for a 17th consecutive season. As a team, the Dolphins gained 261 yards on 38 carries – a robust 6.9 yards per rush.
“It (stinks), man. It’s definitely” a failure, safety Corey Graham said. “The guy really rushed for 200 yards again? Like, come on. That is what, the third guy to get 200 yards rushing? I’ve never been a part of anything like that. I’ve never seen anything like that. I don’t get it.
“I mean, we came in knowing that they were going to run the ball and we got eight, nine guys in the box sometimes – and we still couldn’t stop the run. I don’t know what to tell you guys.”
It’s understandable why Graham would be out of answers. It’s hard to imagine a defense giving up three 200-yard individual rushers in the same season. In fact, it’s only happened three times in NFL history. The 2000 Cowboys and 2003 Browns are the only other teams on that sad list.
“We came into the game with the game plan to stop the run and we certainly didn’t accomplish that,” said Hughes, in what might be the understatement of the season. “We didn’t even slow him down. We definitely got to figure something out so we can stop these running backs.”
Not that it matters now. With the loss, the Bills are out of playoff contention. Again.
“I definitely understand their frustration,” Hughes said of the team’s fans. “We as a team, we certainly understand it. We’re trying to put it together, it just (stinks). There’s really no better way to describe it. Our frustration, the way we played this season, the way we played today, a division team coming into our house and beating us in December, this is what we hang our hats on. It (stinks) right now.”
Graham, a Buffalo native, knows that all too well. His family and friends are Bills fans, after all.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “Especially a situation like this, where the offense did everything to win this game. We were in a great situation two or three different times where you’re like, ‘man we got it.’ Then it’s just taken away from you like that. So it’s terrible for the fans. It’s terrible for the players. It’s just sickening.”
Just like he did in Week Seven, Ajayi carved through the Buffalo defense with a combination of cutback runs – taking advantage of over pursuit by the Bills – speed to the edge and pure power.
“Every play that we run, the way those runs are, you can either go outside or hit the cutback,” Ajayi said. “It all depends on what the defense gives you. You got to take what you get, hit your lanes, stay on your landmark.”
Of course, the Bills’ terrible tackling played into that.
Perhaps Graham said it best: “When it’s all said and done, you’ve just got to get the guy down.”
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