BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Final Score: Bills 23, Dolphins 21
It wasn’t a pretty game for the Buffalo Bills, but their defense came up with big plays when necessary to lead the Bills to a 23-21 victory, which was won on a 31-yard field goal with just 33 seconds remaining by Bills kicker Dan Carpenter to beat his former team, the Miami Dolphins.
The Bills’ offense struggled once again to sustain drives, but quarterback Thad Lewis finished with 202 passing yards on 21-of-32 passing attempts. He had no touchdowns and threw one interception. The Bills struggled running the football, averaging just three yards per carry (90 yards on 30 attempts).
Defensively, however, the Bills came up with big plays including an interception return touchdown by slot cornerback Nickell Robey on the Dolphins’ first offensive possession of the game, and a strip sack by defensive end Mario Williams that was a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Kyle Williams in opposing territory that set up the game-winning field goal by Carpenter.
It appeared for most of the second half that the Bills would lose a game they led 14-0 in the first quarter, but they came up big for a crucial win to keep their hopes alive in the AFC East. The Bills improved to 3-4 with the win, while the Dolphins lost their third consecutive game to fall to 3-3.
A hail mary attempt by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill knocked down in the end zone. The Buffalo Bills survived the final 23 seconds of the game and defeat the Miami Dolphins, 23-21, with Dan Carpenter’s 31-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining going down as the game-winner against his former team.
Ryan Tannehill threw deep for Brian Hartline on 3rd-and-10 but overthrew him. One play remaining on 4th and long with :06 on clock
Pass breakup on first down by Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin, nearly an interception.
Marcus Thigpen returned kickoff to 46-yard line, giving Dolphins offense a chance to respond with 23 seconds remaining. Only need a field goal trailing by two points.
The Buffalo Bills lead 23-21 with 33 seconds remaining following a 31-yard field goal by Bills (and former Dolphins) kicker Dan Carpenter.
Dan Carpenter to kick potential game-winning field goal with 36 seconds remaining.
Even if the Bills cannot get a first down, they could cut the clock to inside 40 seconds remaining when they kick a potential game-winning field goal.
Buffalo Bills in fantastic position now. Fred Jackson runs for 10 yards to convert 3rd-and-4, Dolphins have used all three timeouts with just 2:26 remaining on clock.
Massive play by the Bills defense. Strip sack by Mario Williams recovered by Kyle Williams for a huge turnover, Bills have possession in great field positions down just one point with 2:48 to play.
The Bills may be doomed by their offensive woes again. The Bills have gone 3-and-out once again, and punting the ball back to the Miami Dolphins with less than four minutes to play in this game and trailing by one point. They didn’t do themselves any favors by waiting until there were seven seconds left on the play clock to punt the ball.
The Buffalo Bills will get the ball back on offense with 5:42 to play. The Bills followed up a Mario Williams sack with a third-down stop in the backfield made by inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, forcing the Dolphins into a punt. Trailing by one, the Bills offense needs to put something together on this drive.
This time, the Bills’ first sack of the day does count. Bills defensive end Mario Williams beat Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo to bury Ryan Tannehill for a sack.
A tough series continued for Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore as he was beaten on an inside slant for 19 yards by Brian Hartline.
Nigel Bradham came up with what would have been the game’s first sack for the Buffalo Bills, but the sack was nullifed by a hold on Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who managed to hold even with a club on one of his wrists.
After one third-down conversion, the Bills’ drive stalled. Brian Moorman’s punt went into the end zone for a touchback. The Bills are looking for another stop from their defense to keep the Dolphins from expanding upon their 1-point lead.
Another key third-down conversion for the Bills offense as Thad Lewis connects with Scott Chandler for a 12-yard gain on 3rd-and-9.
Can the Bills sustain back-to-back offensive drives? If they can, they can take the lead back, but this team has struggled to put together offensive drives with any consistency this year.
If this turns out to be a game of quarters, the fourth quarter may be more like the first quarter for the Buffalo Bills. The Bills defense held the Dolphins to a three-and-out on their first possession of the quarter.
For the first time in this game, the Buffalo Bills put together a scoring drive from beyond midfield, but the drive stalled in goal-to-go offense, forcing the Bills to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. The Bills trail 21-20.
The Buffalo Bills trail 21-17 at the end of the third quarter, but appear to be on the verge of scoring as the fourth quarter begins as they will start out on second down in a goal-to-go situation.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Thad Lewis and Stevie Johnson have connected on back-to-back third-down situations, with Lewis hitting Stevie Johnson for a key downfield pass to convert 3rd-and-12 even though he was popped by Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins on a high hit on the quarterback ruled to be roughing the passer.
The Bills came up with a much-needed 3rd-and-7 conversion thanks to wide receiver Stevie Johnson breaking one tackle then spinning through another to turn a short pass into a gain past the sticks.
Bills announced outside linebacker Manny Lawson is questionable to return with a hamstring injury.
The Dolphins have, quite frankly, been dominant in this game since the first quarter. Ryan Tannehill found his groove; after throwing two interceptions in the first quarter, he has thrown three touchdowns since. The Bills defense has lost its dominance from early in the game, while the Thad Lewis-led Bills offense has yet to establish rhythm. The Dolphins are on a 21-3 run, and the Bills need to make some big plays to turn the tables quickly or risk having the Dolphins extend their lead and pull away.
For the second time in this game, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson scores a touchdown, this time wide open in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill, and the Dolphins take their first lead of the game, 21-17 with 6:46 to play in the third quarter.
Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Manny Lawson was down on the field injured for about a minute, walked off the field slowly with an apparent hamstring issue.
The Buffalo Bills’ offensive struggles continued to start the second half with another 3-and-out. The Bills defense now must hold to preserve Buffalo’s waning, 3-point lead.
For the most part, the Buffalo Bills defense controlled the first half of action versus the Miami Dolphins. They came up with two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, while they also held the Dolphins without a first down on five other drives.
The problem for the Bills is their offense continues to lack rhythm. While the Bills have scored three times, only two have come from their offense, and both of those drives started past their own 40-yard line. The Bills’ other four possessions have all resulted in punts, including two that were three-and-outs, excluding the end-of-half kneel-down.
The Bills had momentum through the first quarter, but a big swing at the end of the first half shrunk the Bills’ control of the game. Up 10 with a two-minute drill opportunity, Thad Lewis and the Bills offense had a chance to take a commanding lead going into halftime with another score. Instead, the Bills failed to get a first down and punted the ball back to the Miami Dolphins to give them 1:25 left on the clock with two timeouts, which ended up giving Miami time to spare on their six-play touchdown drive that cut the game’s deficit to three.
The end of the half was a very poor closing effort for the Bills, and it forces them to come out hot in the third quarter. While the Bills have been somewhat opportunistic in this game, their offense has to start putting together drives to score points and help their defense control the field position battle, or the Dolphins’ comeback in this game is likely to continue.
The Miami Dolphins have cut the Buffalo Bills’ lead to three points with just 21 seconds remaining in the first half on a drive capped by two big plays by wide receiver Brandon Gibson. After Gibson made a leaping grab at the left sideline for a 16-yard gain, he finished a catch-and-run on the next play with a leaping pirouette over multiple defenders going into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
The Miami Dolphins would have had a holding penalty to take them out of field goal range, but an illegal contact penalty against Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams caused the penalties to offset, keeping Miami at the 29-yard line.
Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore was burned deep up the right sideline by Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace for a huge gain to set up the Dolphins at the opposing 30-yard line.
Ron Brooks entered the game for the first time today at slot cornerback for the Bills.
The two-minute drill effort failed for the Bills offense. The Bills failed to gain a single first down, stopped the clock with two incompletions and gave the Dolphins the ball back with two timeouts and 1:25 left on the clock.
A two-minute drill opportunity is upcoming for Bills quarterback Thad Lewis. Even a field goal would be big for the Bills to end the half, given their 10-point lead. Lewis has completed 11-of-17 passes through the game’s first 28 minutes for 127 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
For the fifth series already in this game, the Bills defense held the Dolphins offense without a first down. The Dolphins will punt coming out of the two-minute warning.
Nickell Robey is back in the game at slot cornerback for the Buffalo Bills after reportedly requiring medical attention on the sidelines earlier in the second quarter.
The Buffalo Bills’ potential touchdown drive was halted by back-to-back sacks, but Dan Carpenter made a 39-yard field goal to extend the Buffalo lead to 17-7.
Big passing play by Bills. T.J. Graham made a tough 30-yard catch against coverage out near the right sideline on a well-thrown ball into a tight window by Thad Lewis. The Bills are in scoring position with less than five minutes to play in the half.
Unconventionally, the Bills ran their first two offensive plays of the series as carries by fullback Frank Summers. He gained 16 yards on his first carry, but lost two on his second.
The Buffalo Bills defense made a strong recovery in a bad situation, holding the Dolphins without any points after the interception. The Dolphins lost two net yards in a three-play sequence, then Caleb Sturgis missed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Thad Lewis has thrown his first interception as a Buffalo Bills quarterback. Lewis was hit as he threw by Jared Odrick, forcing the ball to come out of his arm at an awkward angle, and safety Chris Clemons made a tough play on the ball for an interception. The Dolphins have possession at the 31-yard line.
Rookie cornerback Nickell Robey, who had an interception return on the Bills’ first defensive possession, is having his arm evaluated by trainers on the bench according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak.
The Buffalo defense got back on its game in its second possession of the quarter, forcing a Dolphins 3-and-out. The Bills will start their next possession at the 21-yard line with 8:01 left to play in the first half.
The momentum of the game is quickly swinging in the Miami Dolphins’ favor in the second quarter. The Buffalo Bills have been forced to punt on back-to-back offensive possessions with a Dolphins touchdown in between.
While the Buffalo Bills defense got off to a fantastic start, they showed some vulnerability on their last two series. With their lead shrunk to seven points, the Bills could use a sustained drive from their offense to give their defense some rest and to extend the lead back to two scores.
The Miami Dolphins scored their first points of the game on a six-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, capped by a seven-yard completion from Ryan Tannehill to Charles Clay. The Bills’ lead has been cut to 14-7.
The Miami Dolphins came up with their first big offensive play of the game as Lamar Miller ran through the Bills defense for a 30-yard gain. On the next play, Mike Wallace came around the backfield on a reverse and gained 12 yards for the Dolphins, as Miami is trying to turn the tides of the game early in the second quarter.
Fred Jackson gained 16 yards on a catch-and-run but it was not enough to convert 3rd-and-20 for the Buffalo Bills. Brian Moorman’s second punt of the day was caught at the 31-yard line and returned six yards.
An ugly end to the first quarter as C.J. Spiller ran for a loss then Tashard Choice dropped a backward pass, which he was lucky to fall upon to avoid a turnover, but the Bills offense will start the second quarter in a third-and-long situation.
The Buffalo Bills got put in a tough spot to start their offensive series as Aaron Williams was ruled to be down at the 1-yard line and not in the end zone for a touchback, but got out of it thanks to a third-down conversion pass from Thad Lewis to Stevie Johnson.
Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd hasn’t had many chances to make big plays this season, but he did on a 2nd-down pass over the middle by hitting a Dolphins wide receiver and freeing the ball away from him for a pass breakup. On the next play, a floating throw by Ryan Tannehill was intercepted in the end zone by Bills strong safety Aaron Williams. The Bills have two takeaways and have allowed no points on four defensive series as Tannehill continues to struggle.
Bills running back Fred Jackson looked healthy as he scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown, extending the early Buffalo lead to 14-0.
The Bills set up a goal-to-go offense by converting a 3rd-and-1 with running back Tashard Choice up the middle.
C.J. Spiller appeared to still be favoring his lingering ankle injury after his impressive 11-yard run, but that has been the case for him at the ends of runs in each of the Bills’ last two games as well.
The Buffalo Bills started their second offensive series of the game with back-to-back first downs. Thad Lewis completed a 19-yard pass to Lee Smith, then C.J. Spiller made a terrific play when he appeared to be stopped in the middle of the line to bounce a run out to the left sideline and get just past the sticks on a 11-yard run.
Good news for the Buffalo Bills offense: Fred Jackson is back on the field at running back.
The early defensive dominance for the Bills continued on Buffalo’s third defensive series, as the Bills forced a second consecutive 3-and-out. Dolphins punter Brandon Fields came up with a 74-yard punt, but an illegal touching penalty by Don Jones forced the Dolphins to re-kick.
After converting one first down, the Bills’ first offensive series ended with a 62-yard punt from Brian Moorman. With a deep punt and a holding penalty called against the Dolphins, the Miami offense starts their third possession inside its own 10-yard line.
It looks like the Bills have dodged a bullet where they could have had a serious loss. Running back Fred Jackson went down on the field in pain grabbing his knee, but although a cart was brought out by the team, he was able to stand up and walk around on the sidelines, a good sign that Jackson did not suffer a major injury and may be able to return to the game.
The Buffalo Bills came up with a key third-down conversion on 3rd-and-15, but Fred Jackson is grabbing his knee in pain on the left sideline after going down on the boundary line.
A strong start for the Buffalo Bills defense continued as it forced a punt on its second series of the game. The Bills have seven points on the board without their offense even having taken the field, and have allowed just 17 total yards in two defensive series.
An undrafted rookie out of USC, slot cornerback Nickell Robey has had a very solid start to his NFL career. While he took advantage of an errant throw with his 19-yard interception return touchdown, he has been consistent in slot coverage all season and has shown the ability to break on and make plays on the ball, which he did for a takeaway and points to give the Bills an early 7-0 lead.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense has made its share of big plays this season, and it already has just 93 seconds into today’s game versus the Miami Dolphins. On a third-down conversion attempt, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by Nickell Robey, who returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Bills an early 7-0 lead.
Storylines and Matchups in Sunday’s game: Read more about what will determine the outcome of Sunday’s game from Eric Samulski.
Sunday’s inactives for the Miami Dolphins:
QB Pat Devlin
RB Mike Gillislee
CB Will Davis
LB Josh Kaddu
LB Dannell Ellerbe
G Danny Watkins
G Dallas Thomas
The most significant inactive for the Dolphins is Ellerbe, Miami’s starting middle linebacker. Jason Trusnik is starting in Ellerbe’s place, but the loss of Ellerbe is a blow to the middle and at the second level of the Dolphins’ defense.
While the Buffalo Bills are without arguably their most important player in starting quarterback EJ Manuel, they are as healthy as they have been all season, as Manuel appears to be the only player inactive due to injury for this week’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
The Bills’ other inactives are as follows:
QB Matt Flynn
CB Justin Rogers
CB Brandon Burton
CB Brandon Smith
LB Ty Powell
G Antoine McClain
Doug Marrone said Monday that Flynn would be the Bills’ backup quarterback if he was able to learn Buffalo’s offensive system in time, so his inactivity indicates that he failed to do so. Among the other five players, Justin Rogers is the only one who has seen significant playing time for the Bills this year, but with Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks back healthy at cornerback for the Bills, it would seem Rogers is a healthy scratch, along with Burton, Smith, Powell and McClain, based upon Rogers’ poor play when he was forced to start earlier this year.