The Buffalo Bills needed someone to step up and make a play Sunday.
Tre’Davious White answered the call not once, but twice. White’s two second-half takeaways proved pivotal in a much-harder-than-expected, 31-21 win over the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field.
White first intercepted old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick in the third quarter to stop a 10-minute Miami drive that reached that had reached the Bills’ 2-yard line and had them on the doorstep of opening a two-possession lead. After Fitzpatrick was dropped by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips for a 10-yard loss on first-and-goal, White dove in front of intended receiver Isaiah Ford to make an interception near the goal line, losing his helmet in the process.
“Played it like basketball, not letting my guy get away from me,” White said. “I did a great job of just reading the receiver and he broke back out. I was able to pretty much recover and make a big-time play.”
He wasn’t done, either. In the fourth quarter, White was in coverage on a short completion to Dolphins receiver Preston Williams. After Williams took two steps, White punched the ball out, with defensive end Jerry Hughes recovering and returning it to the Miami 16-yard line. The Bills’ offense was able to turn White’s two takeaways into 15 points.
“He played a heck of a game,” coach Sean McDermott said of White. “Absolutely a heck of a game. Looked like he covered well for the most part. Took the ball away in the red zone down there, and then he got the takeaway, the punch-out as well. So big-time, big-time energy boost to us.”
White leads the Bills with three interceptions. Since entering the NFL in 2017, he has 14 second-half takeaways, tops in the league.
“He doesn't get too many balls thrown at him, but when he does, he sure makes offenses pay,” Hughes said. “He's making a case for himself (as one of the league's best cornerbacks). He's playing some phenomenal football right now. That interception in the red zone takes points off the board, and then he forces that fumble back to back.
"They don't throw to his side for a reason, because when they do, the results seem to lean in our favor. We're happy he's playing the kind of football that he is. It's fun that all of his hard work is paying off right now.”
It's hard to overstate just how important White’s interception was. The heavily favored home team had been booed off the field at halftime, and was at risk of falling behind to the winless Dolphins, 21-9. Instead, the offense went 98 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
“We needed that play,” quarterback Josh Allen said of White’s pick. “That was a big boost for us mentally and emotionally. We knew that once we got that ball in the end zone, that we started playing how we’re supposed to play, complementary football.”
2. Rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver made the first sack of his NFL career – but it wasn’t on a quarterback. On Miami’s first play from scrimmage, Fitzpatrick threw behind him to wide receiver Albert Wilson, who then was looking to throw. Wilson couldn’t find anyone open, though, giving Oliver time to drop him for a 10-yard loss.
“It’s not the prototypical sack, but I’m happy to have a sack,” Oliver said. “I need the ‘ooh, he killed him’ sack. That’s when I’ll be satisfied.”
Oliver got close to Fitzpatrick a couple other times, but got his first taste of the “FitzMagic” experience.
“Some of the passes, I just felt like, ‘ain’t no way he saw a wide receiver,’ but it was a dime,” Oliver said. “I’m like, ‘Man, how’s he doing this? It was weird. I can’t even describe it. One time I was rushing and I was close. He threw the ball and there was a big lineman in front of him. He’s not a super tall guy, so I’m like, ‘How did he see that?’ He knew where the wide receiver was going to be. He’s a vet. He’s been in the league a long time, and he was here, so it was pretty cool going against him.”
3. Bills wide receiver Duke Williams was hurt late in the third quarter at the end of a 23-yard reception. Williams landed hard on his right shoulder after being tackled by Dolphins cornerback Ken Webster, who was starting because Miami was without star Xavien Howard.
Williams went to the locker room a short time later and was announced as being questionable to return to the game at the start of the fourth quarter. He returned a short time later, although he made a visit to the X-ray room after the game.
Reserve safety Kurt Coleman also suffered a hamstring injury and missed time in the second half. Cornerback Kevin Johnson also left at the two-minute warning to be evaluated for a head injury.
4. Rookie running back Devin Singletary returned to the lineup for the Bills after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Singletary carried four times for 16 yards in the first half. He finished the game with seven carries for 26 yards.
With Singletary back and running back Senorise Perry signed to the 53-man roster, the Bills made T.J. Yeldon a healthy inactive. Perry, a former Dolphin, excels on special teams, which is likely the reason he got the call over Yeldon.
5. Williams’ rise up the Bills’ depth chart not only cost Zay Jones his spot on the roster, it’s also led to Robert Foster being buried. Foster was a healthy inactive Sunday after practicing fully all week. That clearly makes him the team’s No. 6 receiver, behind not just Williams but also John Brown, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts.
Jones, for what it’s worth, was inactive for the Oakland Raiders in his first game with the team.
6. Tight end Tyler Kroft made his season debut for the Bills. Kroft, who signed a three-year contract in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals, missed the first two games of the season as he recovered from a broken foot, then missed the next three after suffering an ankle injury prior to the Week 3 game against his old team.
Kroft had a quiet debut. The first time his name was called came when he was flagged for a false start near the end of the second quarter. He finished the game without being targeted.
With Kroft playing for the first time, rookie tight end Tommy Sweeney was a healthy inactive.
7. Linebacker Corey Thompson missed his third consecutive game with an ankle injury. The other inactives for the Bills were healthy: offensive linemen Ike Boettger and Ryan Bates.