Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills-Dolphins

The Bills move to 7-3 after a 37-20 win on the road over the Dolphins

Sal Capaccio
November 17, 2019 - 9:29 pm

Photo: Michael Reaves - Getty Images

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Just about over Savannah, GA (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Bills offense finally broke out in a way many had been hoping for on their way to a 37-20 win over the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

A lot of that is included as we start with the arrows going straight up this week:

 

ARROW UP

  • QB - Josh Allen

There’s just something about playing the Dolphins for Josh Allen. He’s had some of his best career games against them, and that continued this Sunday with, arguably, his best performance yet. The Bills quarterback went 21-for-33 for 256 yards, the second most of his career, one week after setting a career-high with 266 yards against the Cleveland Browns. Allen threw three touchdown passes and also ran for another, collecting 56 yards on eight carries. Over his last five games, Allen has thrown eight touchdown passes, run for four touchdowns, and hasn’t thrown an interception. Since the New England Patriots game in Week 4, Allen has 10 touchdown passes against only one interception. He now has thrown 163 straight passes without an interception. He also finally hit a pass that traveled over 20 yards when he threw a laser to John Brown down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown. The ball traveled about 27 yards in the air.
 

  • WR - John Brown

Brown continued his outstanding season, and getting an Arrow Up ever single week from me. He had his third-highest catch total in a game with nine, and his third-most yards with 137. He also scored two touchdowns for the Bills on Sunday. Brown was a problem for the Dolphins' secondary all afternoon, and Allen did a great job of targeting him as much as he could. He had the second-most targets of his career with 14 balls thrown to him. 
 

  • RB - Devin Singletary

The rookie running back had another outstanding game running the football, collecting 75 yards on 15 carries, for a 5.0 yards per-carry average.
 

  • Brian Daboll and the gameplan

Brian Daboll has been taking a lot of heat lately for the offense’s struggles, but he put together a great gameplan for this game that included using an up-tempo, no huddle offense as their primary offense for the game. That allowed Allen to see things at the line of scrimmage and take time before snapping the ball, as well as to be in a little more control and use his natural instincts more by being in a rhythm. Daboll also called the game from up in the coach’s booth instead of on the field, switching spots with quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey. The other aspect of the gameplan I loved was using so much “11 personnel” (one running back, one tight end) with three wide receivers and mostly a spread offense. It all came together for the Bills. They scored 37 points and gained 424 yards, their most of the season in both categories.
 

  • Seven sacks!

The Bills had seven sacks, the most they’ve had in one game since they recorded seven against the Houston Texans over a year ago. What was more impressive was that eight different players shared in the seven sacks. Corey Liuget, Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Jordan Phillips, Star Lotulelei, and Ed Oliver each had one, while Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano split one. That means each of the interior defensive linemen had a sack. A lot of that was made possible by the pressure defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier dialed up. It was the most blitzing I can remember the Bills doing, and also from different places and designs. Edmunds, in particular, was used as a blitzer several times, which is something the Bills haven’t done much of with him until the last couple weeks. He also blitzed and recorded a sack for a safety last week in Cleveland.
 

  • LB - Tremaine Edmunds

In addition to the extra blitzing, Edmunds was simply all around the football, recording 12 total tackles, including the half-sack, two quarterback hurries, and a pass defensed. It was also the 21-year-old Edmunds who teammates say gave an inspired talk to them Saturday night at the team hotel. He backed up his own talk.
 

  • Run defense

The much-maligned run defense for the Bills got exactly what the doctor ordered - a game against the worst rushing team in the NFL, and they made sure the Dolphins stayed that way, allowing them to run for only 23 yards on 13 carries for a microscopic 1.8 yards per-attempt.
 

  • K - Stephen Hauschka

It seemed like Sunday was a bounce-back game for a lot of people, and Hauschka is right at the top of the list. After missing two field goals last week, he connected on a 51-yarder on the first drive of the game, his first make from 50-plus after missing five straight. He also connected on 34 and 21-yard attempts, and nailed all four of his extra points with no missed kicks on the day.
 

  • Pass protection

Although Allen had to escape a few times, the protection he got for most of the game was terrific. The Bills didn’t allow a sack on 33 passing attempts.

 

ARROW DOWN

  • Kick coverage and allowing an onside kick

This was a really bad day for the Bills' kickoff units. First, they allowed the Dolphins to recover a surprise onside kick after they scored their first touchdown of the day and had pulled within nine points. Then, right after the Bills seemingly took early control of the game with a touchdown to make it 23-7 in the second quarter, they gave up a 101-yard kick return for a touchdown to Jakeem Grant, letting the Dolphins pull within nine again. Then, yet, another big return by Grant later, this time 49 yards to midfield. In all, Grant torched the Bills for 198 yards on five returns.
 

  • Covering DeVante Parker

Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker had a career day against the Bills, catching seven passes for 135 yards. A lot of those yards came after the catch when the Bills were in zone coverage and did a poor job of letting him get into space and run after he caught the ball. In fact, Parker had the two biggest plays of the game from scrimmage - a 50-yard catch-and-run and a 45-yard catch-and run. He became the first player to catch over 100 yards in passes this season against the Bills.
 

  • Singletary fumbling twice

Even though Singletary ran for 75 yards (and got an Arrow Up for it), he also fumbled the ball twice. Fortunately for him, the Bills recovered both. He recovered one himself and Brown was right on the spot to recover the other. He was taken out of the game for a while after the second fumble, but did go back in later.
 

  • Red zone offense

The Bills came into the game with the No. 2 red zone offense in the NFL, converting 70.83% of their trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns. However, they only went 2-for-4 on Sunday, having to settle for field goals after getting the ball to the Miami 15-yard line and then the Miami three-yard line. As well as they played on offense, they did leave some points on the field.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

Seven days ago, it felt like panic time for many Bills fans. The team went to Cleveland, once again couldn’t even score 20 points, botched the clock at the end of the game, and lost to a two-win Browns team. There was a lot of holding-the-breath going on this week heading into the Dolphins game.

That sound you heard Sunday at about 4:22 p.m. was a collective exhale throughout Western New York. 

The game fans and media have been waiting for finally happened. The Bills scored 37 points. They dominated the Dolphins on both sides of the ball, out-gunning them 424-303. Allen had maybe his best overall day as a pro. Daboll called a good game, backed up by a great gameplan. The run defense got back on track, allowing only 23 yards. And yes, they finally hit a pass that traveled over 20 yards!

They Bills were in control of the game from the first series and were never really threatened, unlike the last time they played the Dolphins, the Washington Redskins, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Until Sunday, when playing maybe the three worst teams in the league, games were too close for comfort and the Bills couldn’t pull away. In this one, once the Bills scored a touchdown less than two minutes into the second quarter, they never led by less than two scores.

No matter how you want to view it based on opponents, 7-3 is a very good record. Next week presents another great opportunity for the Bills to get another win with the 3-7 Denver Broncos coming to town. Their quarterback will be making his third career start, they just blew a 23-7 fourth quarter lead on the road to the Minnesota Vikings, and they're on the road again this week in Orchard Park.

Vegas has opened the Bills as the five-point favorite. 

Does all of that mean that suddenly things are back on for winning 11 or 12 games, as so many thought could be possible after their 5-1 start? Of course not. However, it does keep them a full game up on the two-nearest teams chasing them for a Wild Card berth. It’s another week down and closer to reaching that postseason goal.

It’s okay, Bills fans, you’re allowed to feel a little bit better about things and allowed to exhale. At least for a few days.

Here’s how the AFC standings look after Sunday’s games:


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