Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The Bills frustrate the Dolphins, win 24-16

Offense hums, defense steps up in second half to help Buffalo improve to 8-6

December 17, 2017 - 1:15 pm

The Buffalo Bills did their part in keeping their playoff hopes alive as they dispatched the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 24-16 in the team's final regular season game at New Era Field.The Bills explode offensively in the first half with 21 points, with Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy leading the way for the Bills. The Bills defense did enough to shut down the Miami offense, and won the turnover battle by forcing three turnovers of Jay Cutler to help seal the victory.

Buffalo was in control from the start, and were able to dictate the pace of the game for the majority of the contest. The passing game returned for a pair of reasons, as well: a fresh, crisp Taylor made his return to the offense after missing the Indianapolis Colts game a week ago, and the snow stayed away, allowing both teams to utilize both facets of their offensive schemes more freely.

The Bills received the opening kickoff, and with Taylor back under center, the team did something they hadn't done since Week 11 of last year: Buffalo scored a touchdown on their opening drive of a game. A methodic, 10-play, 81-yard attack was capped off by McCoy's four-yard rush to the endzone; his sixth rushing score of the season. Buffalo came to play, and refused to look back from that moment on.

With 3:16 left in the opening quarter, Miami's Kenyan Drake popped off a 31-yard rush to put the Dolphins within striking distance from tying the game up at 7, but the Bills defense hunkered down in a huge way and promptly forced the white and green to settle for a 28-yard field goal from their kicker, journeyman Cody Parkey.

The second quarter began where the first left off: the Dolphins driving hard for the endzone, looking to take their first lead of the game. Again, however, Buffalo was able to stall a lengthy Miami drive. A little more than seven minutes later, 71 yards worth of work by the Dolphins again resulted in a mere field goal. Parkey again was on point, sending this kick home from 41 yards out.

Then came the milestone we all were waiting patiently for. Needing 39 yards on ground to become the league's 30th rusher ever to eclipse 10,000 yards, McCoy struck. Sitting on 32 yards halfway through the second quarter, "Shady" ripped off a 14-yard, first down run that gave him 46 for the game, and 10,007 for his career. The plateau is a wonderful milestone to achieve for one of this generation's greatest running backs, who will never have to look back after chasing and reaching this prestigious honor.

On the tail end of that same drive, Taylor found McCoy through the air on an endzone fade from 16 yards out, giving Taylor his first touchdown toss of the day. The score pushed the Buffalo lead up to eight as the teams continued to do battle as the first half progressed.

Buffalo was not done in the first half, as it turned out. An efficient, workman-like drive at the end of the second quarter saw the offense drive 80 yards in less than two minutes, capped off by a Taylor quarterback draw, where in the speedy quarterback snuck his way into the left-hand corner of the endzone for a nine-yard rushing score. 21-6, Bills.

The final seconds of the first half played out oddly, to say the least. Miami was in favorable field position with timeouts to burn; at the least, if they didn't feel like running the risk of driving further for an endzone attempt, they could have at least set themselves up for a field goal try. Parkey had been great to this point, after all. Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense chose to rest on their laurels, however, and jogged to the locker room content with their two-possession deficit.

Miami received the opening kickoff of the second half, and promptly turned over the football less than a minute in. Cutler lofted a pass ever so delicately down the field, but the attempt ended up being far further than the veteran quarterback intended. The pass attempt was picked off effortlessly by Buffalo's Jordan Poyer, thus giving the Bills a golden opportunity to extend their lead before Miami could exhale.

On the final play of that same drive, a decision had to be made. With his team facing a 4th and 7 just shy of the redzone, head coach Sean McDermott opted to call one of the team's second half timeouts to discuss a gameplan for the play. After getting the offense on the same page, the ball was snapped and floated into the air as Taylor looked for tight end Charles Clay. The pass eluded the outstretched hands of Clay, however, thus squelching the conversion attempt for Buffalo.

Three-and-a-half minutes later, Miami opted to the same in a 4th and 7 situation, though the result was much, much worse for Cutler and the Dolphins. Jay's pass on the 4th down try was intercepted (his second of the quarter) by Shareece Wright, who returned it 48 yards as he streaked through the offense-turned-defense of the Dolphins.

At the 5:40 mark of the third quarter, Buffalo struck on the scoreboard again. Kicker Stephen Hauschka nailed his first field goal attempt of the afternoon. While it was beneficial for the Bills, it was not what they envisioned would happen. Two yards shy of the endzone, McDermott chose to go for the throat once again on fourth down. Unfortunately, though, a pair of penalties cost the offense very favorable field position and changed the mindset of their head coach, who played it much safer in this instance and gave his veteran kicker an opportunity to extend the Buffalo lead to 18, which he did with ease from 34 yards out. Heading into the final 15 minutes of the game, the Bills were in a good position to move themselves two games above .500 late in the season.

Seven minutes into the final frame, Miami tallied more points on the scoresheet thanks to a Drake one-yard touchdown rush, set up by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Buffalo's Adolphus Washington. The penalty came on a Miami 4th and goal try, and the tide was turned as an immediate fresh set of downs was awarded to the Dolphins, who took only two plays to make this an eleven-point game at 24-13.

The final minute of the fourth quarter brought with it a wide range of emotions for Buffalo. With 39-seconds left in regulation, Miami got themselves within a touchdown and a two-point conversion thanks to another Parkey field goal, his third of the game from 26 yards out. Everyone in the stadium knew that the Dolphins would attempt an onside kick and go for the miraculous. The only thing standing between this scenario was execution; and execute, they did. Miami, in a last-second effort to tie this game up with a timeout in their back pocket, successfully recovered their onside kick, and suddenly a mad dash for the endzone looked imminent. Before any Bills fans could even cover their eyes to look away from the insanity, it happened.

Jay Cutler threw his third interception of the second half, on the first play after his special teams worked so hard to get him that football back. 

Rookie Tre'Davious White clamped his gloves on the errant pass and thus sealed the deal on an ever-so crucial Week 15 victory for the Buffalo Bills. The victory gave the team, the coaching staff, and all the fans around Western New York a sense of promise as the team finishes their home portion of the schedule with a great inter-divisional triumph. The win pushed Buffalo's home record to 6-2, their best mark since the 1999 season.

The Bills will travel to Foxboro to do battle with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots next Sunday; Christmas Eve. It will be the second matchup between the first and second place teams in the AFC East. The Patriots took the first meeting by a score of 23-3. Kickoff next week is set for 1 p.m. with John Murphy, Mark Kelso, Sal Capaccio on the call on WGR!

 

1st Quarter:

  • 7-0 Bills (10:16) - McCoy gives Buffalo an early lead to build off of. Tyrod Taylor manages the drive efficiently, moving the offense 81 yards in under five minutes to get off to a promising start.
    • Drive info: 10 plays, 81 yards, 4:48
  • 7-3 Bills (3:16) - Despite Miami's Kenyan Drake busting out a 31-yard run to put the 'Phins in favorable field position, the Buffalo defense was able to bear down and force Miami to settle for a 28-yard field goal attempt which was converted by Cody Parkey.
    • Drive info: 7 plays, 50 yards, 3:51

2nd Quarter:

  • 7-6 Bills (9:15) - Miami drives, drives, and drives again. Despite fizzling and resulting in another field goal, the Dolphins chip 7:04 off the clock with 14 plays, en route to another Parkey FG; this one good from 41 yards out.
    •  Drive info: 14 plays, 71 yards, 7:04
  • 7-6 Bills (7:05) - With his most recent 14-yard gain, LeSean McCoy eclipses the 10,000-yard rushing plateau for his career. Needing 39 on the day to reach the milestone, his last rush pushed him from 32 to 46 yards on the ground for the day, putting him on the right side of the heralded number.
  • 14-6 Bills (6:05) - Tyrod Taylor finds McCoy on a fadeaway route and leads the back into the right-hand side of the endzone to extend the lead once again. Stephen Hauschka converts the extra point, and the Bills find themselves up by eight with just over six minutes left before a halftime break.
    • Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:10
  • 21-6 Bills (0:33) - Taylor keeps the football on a draw and sneaks his way into the left-hand side of the endzone; a 9 yard score. The rushing score pushes the Buffalo lead up to 15 as both teams prepare for the second half of this contest.
    • Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards, 1:50

3rd Quarter:

  • 21-6 Bills (14:06) - Jordan Poyer hauls in an errant pass from Miami's Jay Cutler that floated well over the Dolphins QB's intended receiver. Buffalo forces a turnover straight out of the halftime break and look to extend their lead even greater with the interception.
  • 21-6 Bills (11:18) - Sean McDermott and company opt to go for a 4th down conversion with the offense needing at least seven yards to keep the drive alive. After using a timeout to discuss gameplan, Taylor lofts a pass intended for Charles Clay near the endzone, but the air attempt floats just out of the reach of Clay's outstretched arms. Turnover on downs.
  • 21-6 Bills (7:46) - Desperate to gain some traction on the offensive side of the ball, Miami opts to go for a fourth down conversion of their own. Cutler, in turn, throws another interception; this time, the recipitent of this turnover was Shareece Wright who returns the ball 48 yards the other way. The change of possession gives Buffalo excellent field position.
  • 24-6 Bills (5:40) - A Buffalo fourth-down conversion attempt turns into a Hauschka field goal due to two penalties on the offense (false start, unsportsmanlike conduct). The veteran kicker pads the lead with a 34-yard, three-point tally.
    • Drive info: 5 plays, 7 yards, 2:06

4th Quarter:

  • 24-13 Bills (7:57) - Some lengthy extra-curricular activities along the sidelines made this drive feel much longer than it actually was. After a costly Bills unsportsmanlike penalty that turned a Miami 4th-and-goal into a completely fresh set of downs, Kenyan Drake takes a rush up the middle on 2nd-and-1 for the score.
    • Drive info: 6 plays, 13 yards, 1:35
  • 24-16 Bills (0:39) - Cody Parkey kicks his third field goal of the game, this one from 26 yards out. Miami will now presumably go for the onside kick in an effort to find the endzone and look for a two-point conversion to tie this thing up.
    • Drive info: 17 plays, 78 yards, 3:54
  • 24-16 Bills (0:28) - Miami successfully recovers their onside kick, but Cutler promptly throws his third interception of the second half on the first play after the onside kick, right into the hands of TreDavious White. The pick seals the deal on a crucial win.

 

STATS OF THE GAME:


Passing:

Buffalo Bills:

Tyrod Taylor: 17 of 29, 224 yards, TD


Miami Dolphins:

Jay Cutler: 28 of 49, 274 yards, 3 INTs

 

Rushing:

Buffalo Bills:

LeSean McCoy: 20 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD

Tyrod Taylor: 6 carries, 42 yards, 1 TD

Travaris Cadet: 4 carries, 24 yards


Miami Dolphins:

Kenyan Drake: 16 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD

Jay Cutler: 2 carries, 8 yards

Jakeem Grant: 1 carry, 7 yards

MarQueis Gray: 2 carries, 7 yards

 

Receiving:

Buffalo Bills:

Charles Clay: 5 receptions, 68 yards

LeSean McCoy: 4 receptions, 46 yards, TD

Nick O'Leary: 2 receptions, 33 yards

Brandon Tate: 1 reception, 21 yards

Kelvin Benjamin: 2 receptions, 20 yards

Deonte Thompson: 1 reception, 16 yards

Travaris Cadet: 1 reception, 14 yards

Patrick DiMarco: 1 reception, 6 yards
 

Miami Dolphins:

Jarvis Landry: 10 receptions, 99 yards

DeVante Parker: 6 receptions, 89 yards

Kenyan Drake: 6 receptions, 35 yards

Anthony Fasano: 2 receptions, 15 yards

Julius Thomas: 2 receptions, 15 yards

Jakeem Grant: 1 reception, 13 yards

Kenny Stills: 1 reception, 8 yards

 

Defense:

Buffalo Bills:

Leonard Johnson: 8 tackles

Preston Brown: 7 tackles

Lorenzo Alexander: 5 tackles

Jordan Poyer: 4 tackles, 1 INT

TreDavious White: 1 INT

Shareece Wright: 1 INT

Ryan Davis: 1 sack

 

Miami Dolphins:

Kiko Alonso: 7 tackles

Ndamukong Suh: 6 tackles

Xavien Howard: 4 tackles, 1 sack

 

Total Yards:

Bills: 328
Dolphins: 349 


Passing Yards:

Bills: 212
Dolphins: 249 
 

Rushing Yards:

Bills: 116
Dolphins: 100 


First Downs:

Bills: 21
Dolphins: 21


Penalties:

Bills: 3 for 28 yards
Dolphins: 7 for 60 yards


Time of Possession:

Bills: 27:35
Dolphins: 32:25

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