The Miami Dolphins are relying more on the blitz to try to bolster a pass rush that ranks 27th in the NFL.
Miami blitzed Tyrod Taylor on 14 of 35 drop-backs in the Bills' 24-16 victory Sunday. That's the highest rate (40 percent) any team has sent five or more rushers at the Bills this season.
The Bills handled it well enough. Taylor was an adequate 5 of 11 for 77 yards against the blitz but also had two scrambles against it for 20 yards. However, the Bills converted three key plays against the blitz that aided two of their second-quarter touchdown drives.
Taylor hit tight end Charles Clay for a 21-yard catch and run on the way to the Bills' second TD. He hit Clay for a 29-yarder on the way to the third TD.
The Bills expected pressure from Miami after watching the Dolphins blitz Tom Brady on 18 of 45 pass plays on the Monday night win over New England.
"They got after the Patriots and got in his face," tackle Jordan Mills said of Brady. "So we were kind of expecting the same thing."
The risk in blitzing Taylor is the defensive backs typically are in man coverage with their backs turned to the QB. If he scrambles, he has room to roam, as he did on a 17-yard scamper in the second half.
"You gotta make sure you hit home with it, or Tyrod's going to kill it," Mills said.
On the season, Miami is blitzing on 29 percent of pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus, which is just slightly above the league average.
Here's this week's position-by-position Bills grades, based on video review (on a scale of 1 to 5):
Quarterback (4.0): The short passing game keyed this Bills victory. Rick Dennison called 22 drop-backs and 12 runs in the first half. Tyrod Taylor was 6 of 8 for 88 yards on first-down passes in the first half. That kept the Bills out of third-and-bad situations and hindered Miami's blitz effectiveness. Taylor had four key scrambles and the 9-yard QB draw TD in the first half. The draw TD was all Tyrod. He outran three Dolphins to the pylon.
Running back (3.5): LeSean McCoy produced 96 yards from scrimmage and two TDs. Fullback Patrick DiMarco knocked around safety Reshad Jones a bunch, including on McCoy's 4-yard TD run. The run game managed 35 yards on 16 carries in the second half, as the Bills protected the lead and ate clock.
Offensive line (3.5): Vlad Ducasse and Jordan Mills handled their respective tough assignments against Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake well. Center Eric Wood had a standout game. He sealed off Suh on McCoy's TD run and bulldozed Kiko Alonso on a 14-yard McCoy run.
Receiver (1.0): The wideouts caught only four passes. We do not consider Zay Jones' deep-ball incompletion a drop. Alterraun Verner prevented Jones from plucking the ball by grabbing his arm then knocked the ball away. Good defense.
Defensive line (3.5): The Bills' pass rush was not great, although Miami throws a lot of quick-game passes. Fortunately, Miami quarterback Jay Cutler does not like to get hit. A little bit of pressure went a long way. Kyle Williams played a B-plus game in what may have been his home finale. He caused the first sack by getting inside guard Jesse Davis. He stood up Ted Larsen for a run-force stop then stuffed Drake for no gain. Jerry Hughes hustled vs. the run but got little pass pressure. No hurries. Ryan Davis had a sack but lost the edge on Drake's 31-yard run. Eddie Yarbrough had a hit and a hurry. Lorenzo Alexander rushed on 24 of his 40 snaps, often from a defensive tackle spot. He had a hurry on the final interception. The Bills tried to use twist stunts to get the sub-par Miami O-line moving.
"We want to get teams one-dimensional, get them away from the run, which I thought we did," Alexander said. "They started passing. We've got some great ball-hawks on the back end.
"Obviously, Cutler has all the skill-sets and tools," Alexander said. "But I think if he had one downside, he throws the ball up a lot and guys come down with interceptions. So if you can hurry that process even more, which we were able to do today, he threw our guys some balls. And the biggest thing is our guys came down with them."
Linebackers (3.5): Matt Milano displayed his explosiveness when he burst through an "open door" in Miami's line (created by pulling center Mike Pouncey) and took down Kenyan Drake for a 5-yard loss. Milano played 51 snaps. Ramon Humber played 24. Preston Brown (10 tackles) had a solid day. It's a good thing the Bills played with a lead and Miami put the game in the hands of Cutler, not the speedy Drake. Miami called 20 drop-backs and 11 runs in the first half. Look for Adam Gase to correct that imbalance in the rematch in Miami in 13 days.
Defensive backs (4.0): The Bills' stellar safety play continues. Jordan Poyer was the single safety in the middle of the field but got a great jump in intercepting Cutler's sideline overthrow in the third quarter. Poyer also had a pass breakup on the goal line vs. Javris Landry. Micah Hyde broke up a slant in man coverage against Julius Thomas, tipped a pass on a blitz and diagnosed a swing pass for a 2-yard loss. It was another good game for Tre White. He had good coverage on a double-move pass for Kenny Stills, got a jam on Stills to aid the Poyer INT and had a breakup in the end zone on a pass for DeVante Parker. Cutler was only 1 of 6 for 36 yards on passes 20 or more yards downfield.
Special teams (3.5): Lafayette Pitts downed a punt at the 1. He and fellow gunner Andre Holmes got blocked up on Jakeem Grant's 26-yard punt return.
Bills' stars of the game: 1. Tyrod Taylor. 2. LeSean McCoy. 3. Vlad Ducasse.