Week 17 Recap: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

Week 17 Recap: Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

by January 4, 2021 1 comment

Intent on locking up the number two seed in the AFC playoffs with a victory, the Buffalo Bills won their sixth straight game on Sunday in a 56-26 beatdown of the Miami Dolphins. Trailing early after an interception of Josh Allen by cornerback Byron Jones, a red hot Buffalo team responded swiftly with four second-quarter touchdowns, including an 84-yard punt return TD by wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie. Unable to move the ball downfield all game long, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa turned in one of his worst performances of the season as the rookie tossed three interceptions, including a pick-six by defensive back Josh Norman.

Why the Miami Dolphins Lost

Once again, struggling to move the ball down the field in the passing game, Tagovailoa dropped back over 50 times with a measly 5.7 yards averaged per attempt. Rarely threatened deep, the Bills secondary was able to play aggressively to stymie the Dolphins game plan, leading the rookie to toss a season-high three interceptions. Tua found little help all afternoon long though. Miami’s wide receiving core dropped 11 passes and fumbled the ball twice in an ugly showing. Implementing an ultra-conservative gameplan in the opening half, Brian Flores’s group also failed to convert any of their ten third-down attempts, allowing Buffalo’s defense to get them off the field without any extended drives.

After forcing a turnover on the game’s opening possession on an interception by Jones, the Dolphins defense had no answer for Allen or backup Matt Barkley throughout the game. Unloading 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, Miami failed to contain McKenzie as the backup wideout recorded all three scores. After not giving up over 450 yards of total offense all season, the team allowed the Bills to rack up 455 on Sunday, with over seven yards averaged per play. In addition to this, after heading into week 17 as the league’s number one scoring defense with just over 18 points given up per game, the group allowed a season-high 56 points on multiple 50-yard passing plays.

Why the Buffalo Bills Won

The Bills overcame a slow first quarter that saw them run just 16 plays and record three first downs. They beat up one of the best secondaries in the NFL during the rest of the game as Allen completed 72 percent of his passes for 224 yards, three touchdowns, and the lone interception. After being relieved by Barkley in the second half, Buffalo saw three more scores from mainly backup players as running back Antonio Williams scored twice in his NFL debut. In addition to this, a 56-yard TD pass from the longtime veteran to rookie Gabriel Davis helped Brian Daboll’s group find the end zone for the eighth time on Sunday. In a strong effort up front, the Bills offensive line allowed just one sack on 38 dropbacks.

Pitching in one of the season’s most well-rounded efforts, the team received contributions from all three units. Recording his third career pick-six, Norman picked off Tagovailoa late in the third quarter on a pass intended for wide receiver DeVante Parker to extend the Buffalo lead to 35-13. Making life miserable for the Miami offense all game long, Leslie Fraizer’s group forced four turnovers, including two interceptions from backup safety Dean Marlowe and a forced fumble from linebacker Andre Smith. The group entered the week ranked 10th in yards against and 14th in points against.

Highlights

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What’s Next 

Winners of 13 games for the first time since the 1991 NFL season, the Bills welcome in the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of Wild Card weekend next Saturday at 1:05 pm. The Dolphins began the day with a 90 percent chance to make the playoffs. Miami will now begin their offseason preparations after falling out of the wildcard race with a loss and wins by the Browns, Colts, and Ravens.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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