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Quarter-by-quarter analysis

Big second half helps Bills survive FitzMagic

FIRST QUARTER

Theme: Miami’s defense shows backbone. The Buffalo Bills were held to field goals on their first two drives. A couple of quick TDs might have dented winless Miami’s spirit. It didn’t happen.

Big play: Ryan Fitzpatrick had perfect touch on a deep pass for 35 yards to Preston Williams with Levi Wallace in coverage.

Secondary issues: Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones was out, so the Dolphins rotated Steven Parker and Walt Aikens in his spot. Parker was claimed off waivers last month. Top corner Xavien Howard (shoulder) was out, prompting undrafted rookie Nik Needman to start.

Line issues: Miami’s top lineman, center Daniel Kilgore (knee) sat out. Guard Evan Boehm shifted over, and rookie Shaq Calhoun to make his first start at right guard. Vince Biegel started for defensive end Avery Moss (ankle).

Rare catch: The 27-yard pass to Patrick DiMarco was his fourth catch of the year and second longest of his career.

Good game planning: Credit Miami offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea with a good opening script. The Dolphins found some gaps between the tackles in the Bills’ run defense. Miami rushed eight times for 46 yards in the first quarter.

SECOND QUARTER

Theme: Ryan Fitzpatrick outplays Josh Allen. The Dolphins’ QB hit seven of nine passes for 91 yards and mounted consecutive 75-yard TD drives. The Bills QB was 6 of 15 for 90 yards.

Key drop: The Bills were forced to settle for their third field goal after a drop by tight end Dawson Knox at the Miami 13. Knox was wide open. It was a good play design, with a fake jet sweep and then a fake handoff to draw up the linebackers.

Zebra report: A key play on Miami’s second touchdown drive was a roughing-the-passer call on Shaq Lawson to wipe out an incompletion. Lawson threw his hands up and bumped Ryan Fitzpatrick with his stomach. It wasn’t much of a hit, but it was unnecessary.

Fins fake: Fitzpatrick sold a hard fake handoff on his 12-yard TD pass to DeVante Parker, which gave Miami a 14-9 lead. Rookie defensive end Darryl Johnson crashed too hard and couldn’t chase Fitzpatrick on the bootleg to the right. Levi Wallace took a step in and then had too much traffic to navigate as Parker sprinted behind the line into the clear.

THIRD QUARTER

Theme: Tre’Davious White saves the day. The Bills’ cornerback intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass on the sideline at the 2-yard line to halt a 17-play, 63-yard Miami drive. It kept the Dolphins from expanding on their 14-9 lead.

Fast and scoreless: There only were two possessions in the quarter. Miami held the ball for 9:59 and the Bills for 5:01.

Small gamble: The Dolphins are not afraid to take chances on special teams under coordinator Danny Crossman, the former Bills assistant. They had run two fake punts this year. Miami ran a fake field goal for a 2-yard run and a first down just before White’s interception.

Matchup watch: Undrafted rookie Preston Williams looks like a find for the Dolphins. Williams caught six passes for 82 yards, and five of the catches came against Levi Wallace. Williams is a 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pounder out of Colorado State who entered the draft with some character concerns. He was arrested in 2017 in a domestic violence incident and eventually pleaded guilty to a harassment charge. He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine as a result.

FOURTH QUARTER

Theme: The Bills improved to 5-1 for the first time since 2008 and the 11th time in team history.

Star of the game: Tre’Davious White forced a fumble by Preston Williams with 7:57 left at the Miami 28 to set up the Bills for a TD that stretched the lead to 24-14.

Big fourth quarter: The Bills got three fourth-quarter TDs and now are outscoring opponents, 57-24, in the final period.

FitzMagic: The Bills’ defense had a streak of 13 straight games of keeping opposing passers to fewer than 250 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 282 and made some remarkable plays on Miami’s final TD drive.

Robbed: Jerry Hughes had Fitzpatrick wrapped up for a sack with 1:54 left. Somehow, the QB escaped for an 11-yard TD run.

On record-bad pace: The 31 points allowed by Miami wasn’t indicative of a decent performance by its defense. Still, Miami now are allowing 35.1 ppg. The NFL record for most points allowed in a season is held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who yielded 33.3 a game.

Series: The Bills have won four of the last five and now trail in the series with Miami, 49-61-1.

Tre'Davious White saves the day in Bills' win

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