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Disappointing. Depressing. Discouraging. Disheartening. Pick a D. They all apply. They all sum up the performance of the Miami Dolphins on a cold, rainy Sunday in Buffalo.
In a game that meant everything, the Dolphins got nothing. No points in a 19-0 defeat. No memorable defensive stands. No feel good moments. Nothing but the reality of losing sole control of their playoff future and now needing to beat the Jets this Sunday — and get some help as well.
This is what happens when you lose a game deep into December, when you come up with your worst overall performance of the season at the most inopportune of times.
It’s hard to understand. It really is. I don’t buy the theory that the victory over New England had a lingering effect. These are grown men. They see the standings. They knew what Sunday in Buffalo meant. They knew what an enormous opportunity they had. And they simply did not respond.
Where do you start? The first nine offensive possessions resulted in nine punts. The 10th possession ended with an interception. It was that kind of day for the offense. Six first downs. A total of 103 yards. Never visited the red zone. Never really came close.
The offensive line took a huge step backward after taking small steps forward over the past month or so. It was more than the seven sacks. There were penalties. There were missed assignments. There were no creases for the running backs. If you had to pinpoint one area where the Bills were undeniably dominant, it was their defensive line against the Dolphins offensive line.
But you can’t simply single out the offensive line as the reason for a defeat this resounding. Nobody stepped up. The receivers dropped too many passes – why even Brian Hartline dropped a few – and Ryan Tannehill was clearly off his game which, in part, had to be due with the pounding he took.
The defense, meanwhile, did little to help. The Bills ran for over 200 yards and, as an offense, finished with almost 400. The third down was defense clearly sub-par and back-up quarterback Thad Lewis played far too well against the Dolphins secondary. Have I left anything out?
“They totally outplayed us,” said coach Joe Philbin of the Bills. “I wish I had a better answer than that.”
Who could have seen this coming? I truthfully expected a close game and a Dolphins win. But it just wasn’t there. The urgency. The spark. The execution. None of it. And the timing of it all couldn’t have been much worse.
You want an example of what this day was like, how everything seemed to go wrong? The Dolphins are down 10-0 midway through the third quarter. They had just held the Bills on a three-and-out deep in their own territory. Or so we thought. They were going to get good field position. Or so we thought. Maybe this was the moment when the game would turn.
But instead, on the incompletion on that third down play, Philip Wheeler is penalized for grabbing a facemask and the Bills get another first down. So what happens? The Bills held the ball for 16 more plays on that drive and took about eight minutes off the clock before settling for a field goal. One penalty changed it all. That’s how it went Sunday for the Dolphins. That’s how you lose 19-0.
“We have to play a lot better next week is the situation we are in right now,” Philbin.
And that situation is very simple. The Dolphins must beat the Jets and then must get some additional help. It isn’t what they wanted. It isn’t what we had hoped for. You win three straight to begin December, you topple the Patriots for the first time in four years, and you don’t expect a complete reversal against the Bills.
But that’s what happened and now the Dolphins must accept it and quickly move on. The Jets are waiting. There is still a decent shot at a 17th game. It’s just too bad they made things a lot harder on themselves with that performance in upstate New York.
On Tuesday, AC in the AM reflects on the Buffalo loss and looks ahead to the game against the Jets.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.