The Buffalo Bills did not get beat Saturday on cutback runs like they did in the first meeting against Jay Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins.
Instead, they got killed at the point of attack. Ajayi hit off-tackle runs hard all day in a 206-yard effort, which keyed Miami’s 34-31 overtime victory.
“He goes 100 miles an hour,” said Miami tight end Dion Sims. “That’s why he’s got the nickname Train. He goes non-stop, and he balled out thanks to the guys up front.”
The Dolphins knew the Bills would be prepared for cutbacks after Ajayi’s 214-yard game in Miami.
“Coach Barrett really prepped us this week on really hitting our techniques and our alignments and get to the hole,” said Miami back Kenyan Drake, referring to running backs coach Danny Barrett. “Once we got to the hole, at that point we see what we see. If it’s a cutback you make a cutback. But if not, hit that hole full speed. Eventually they wear down, like they did in overtime.”
Here were the Ten Plays That Shaped the Game:
1. Gashed in OT. Ajayi burst off left tackle for 57 yards to set up Miami’s winning field goal in overtime. Most of Ajayi’s runs were outside zone plays that showed off his speed to the edge. This was different. Miami outnumbered the Bills at the point of attack.
The Bills were over-shifted toward right tackle. Then tight end Dion Sims went in motion to the left. He pulled and trapped Bills defensive end Leger Douzable. Left tackle Branden Albert blocked Lorenzo Alexander on the edge. That was all Ajayi needed because Kyle Williams was lined up too far inside to catch him. Ajayi pushed away Williams’ reaching arm and burst down the left sideline.
“B.A. did a great job sealing the block,” Ajayi said. “Dion flashed across. It’s just about finding the right lane and then hitting the gas.”
2. Missed tackle I. Receiver DeVante Parker went 56 yards for a catch-and-run touchdown to put the Dolphins ahead, 21-7, to start the third quarter. It was a simple shallow cross, and he should have been tackled at the Buffalo 45 for an 11-yard gain. But Nickell Robey-Coleman hit him with a shoulder instead of a form tackle. Parker bounced off and zoomed down the sideline.
3. Missed tackle II. A 44-yard catch-and-run by Damien Williams set up the TD that put Miami ahead, 28-14. It was a simple swing pass that should have gone for 10 yards. Instead, Stephon Gilmore tried to shoulder Williams to the ground. He bounced off and ran to the Buffalo 24.
4. Clutch. Andrew Franks’ 55-yard field goal forced overtime. It was the most clutch kick to force OT at New Era Field since Steve Christie booted a 55-yarder in the rain against Denver in 1997. (The Bills lost that one, too.)
“I think 56, 57 was the longest I hit in warmups,” Franks said. “The wind sort of helped a little bit. It was, I felt, my range. I thought I hit a really pure ball.”
5. Not clutch. Dan Carpenter missed wide right from 45 yards in OT in what likely will be his last game at New Era Field.
6. Fourth-down TD. Tyrod Taylor completed what should have been a winning, 89-yard TD drive with a 7-yard scoring pass to Charles Clay with 1:20 left. It was a hook route from the right slot in a four-receiver set. Taylor held middle linebacker Spencer Paysinger just long enough to fit it in the throwing window.
7. Flea-flicker. Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn called a great game. He pulled out a trick play on the Bills’ tying TD drive late in the fourth quarter. Taylor took a pitch-back from LeSean McCoy and hit Robert Woods on a crossing route toward the right sideline for 34 yards to the Miami 7.
8. Pass interference? The Bills settled for a field goal with 5:51 left after Taylor threw incomplete in the end zone for Clay. Paysinger clearly hooked Clay’s arm well before the ball arrived. No call.
9. Reverse-field TD. Drake burned the Bills on a 45-yard TD run in the second quarter to put Miami up, 14-0. Kyle Williams shut down the play at the point of attack. But Jerry Hughes way over-pursued on the backside. Drake reversed field and picked up a block from Moore on his way to the end zone.
“We had an overload offensive line to the left side,” Drake said. “We call it Elephant. When he crashed, I saw it out of the corner of my eye so my first instinct was to cut it back and there was nobody there.”
10. Great balance. Ajayi showed it by shrugging off Douzable and stiff-arming Sergio Brown on his 2-yard TD run in the first quarter.