MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Here are my hot reads from the Buffalo Bills' 37-20 victory against the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
Sure, it was the Dolphins, who are striving to be terrible.
The Bills, however, are trying to reach the playoffs. They desperately needed to bounce back from an ugly, 19-16 loss against the Cleveland Browns. And that was exactly what they did to improve their record to 7-3.
Coach Sean McDermott instructed his team to "play fearless" last week. Message received.
The Bills treated the Dolphins like the poor opponent they were, with a strong showing on offense and defense. So strong, in fact, that it allowed the Bills to overcome a couple of notable blunders on special teams.
It was the Bills' highest point total of the season, surpassing the 31 they had against the Dolphins on Oct. 20 at New Era Field, and their highest since the 2018 season finale when they scored 42 on the Dolphins.
It's fair to assume McDermott's "fearless" speech" was mostly directed at Josh Allen, who responded by completing 21 of 33 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns. He had no turnovers and finished with a passer rating of 117.7. Allen also ran six times for 57 yards, including an 8-yard scoring run that gave the Bills a 30-14 lead with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
John Brown caught nine passes, on 14 targets, for 137 yards and two TDs, one of which covered 40 yards.
The Bills scored on each of their first four possessions.
The Bills' defense had a solid game, allowing 13 points (Miami's third touchdown came on a kickoff return). The Dolphins had 7 rushing yards in the first half to the Bills' 115. Miami finished with a mere 23 yards on the ground to the Bills' 168.
- Devin Singletary ripped off a 22-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. He finished with 75 yards on 15 carries.
- Ed Oliver had a first-down sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick for minus-5 yards on the opening play of the Dolphins' second possession. It was Oliver's second sack of his rookie season, but the first of a quarterback. His previous sack was of Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson on Miami's opening snap on Oct. 20 at New Era Field.
- The Bills sacked Fitzpatrick a total of seven times, one by recently signed tackle Corey Liuget.
- With just less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, Allen had a 36-yard run to the Dolphins' 8. It ended with him being tackled face-first, rather than after a slide. But it did set up a 21-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal to make it 16-0.
- After missing on 11 challenges in a row after getting the first of his head-coaching career right in 2017, McDermott got his second challenge correct when he threw his flag to contest a pass ruled incomplete. A replay review showed that receiver Allen Hurns took three steps before dropping the ball, which Jordan Poyer recovered at the Bills' 25. That set up Allen's 23-yard scoring throw to Dawson Knox to give the Bills a 23-7 lead.
- With less than six minutes left in the second quarter, Allen and Brown had a terrible miscommunication when the QB led him by several yards on a crossing route on which Brown was wide open. The ball fell harmlessly into a large patch of green. On the next play, Allen nearly was intercepted.
- The Bills gave up a 50-yard completion from Fitzpatrick to DeVante Parker on third down to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Kalen Ballage.
- After Ballage's score, the Dolphins caught the Bills by surprise with an onside kick, which Miami recovered at their own 47. But the Dolphins gave the ball back on the very next snap with Hurns' fumble, setting up a 75-yard scoring march that ended with Allen's TD throw to Knox.
- The terrible day for the Bills' special teams hit its low point when Jakeem Grant returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to cut the Bills' lead to 23-14 at halftime.
- In the final minute of the first half, Allen had a terrible overthrow on a sideline pass intended for 5-foot-8-inch Isaiah McKenzie. On the next play, Allen fired a ball for McKenzie on the opposite sideline that was wide and low.
Setting the table
After a two-game road stretch, the Bills are back at New Era Field next Sunday to face the Denver Broncos.