The Miami Dolphins put out a throwback performance with a 21-17 victory against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. There has never been a dull game at Hard Rock Stadium. Even though the Dolphins are 6-6 and in the mix for the playoff spot, they are 5-1 at home and each win was filled with drama and excitement.
Under head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins are 7-2 whenever they score on their first drive. The Dolphins achieved that with an 18 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to wide receiver DeVante Parker.
“I think any time that you can get a lead, it helps the defense a little bit," Gase said. "If you could ever get a big lead, that really is ideal because then the other team becomes one-dimensional. All of these games are going to be close from here on out. We just have to do a good job of playing complementary football. We can’t turn the ball over. We need to get points when our defense gets turnovers, which we haven’t done lately, and have a play or two that are impactful on special teams.”
The Bills responded with a touchdown of their own. Rookie quarterback Josh Allen originally ran for a score but it was called back because of a holding penalty. He then threw a 15 yard pass to Zay Jones but a missed extra point kick by Stephen Hauschka preserved the Dolphins' lead at 7-6.
Tannehill added to his fantasy numbers with a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Kenyan Drake. Drake finished with 31 rushing yards and 13 receiving yards. Overall, the Dolphins won despite being outgained 415-175.
"It beats the heck out of the alternative," Tannehill said.
The Bills eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter with a field goal and touchdown pass from Allen to Jones. Miami retook the lead later in the game with a 13 yard pass from Tannehill to Kenny Stills to go up 21-17.
"It’s a play we’ve been working for a while," Tannehill said. "The safety played more to the left than we wanted him to. It took a while for Kenny to get around him and make the play. I just trusted him that he was going to get around that guy. He did a great job of getting around and making that play on the football."
Even though the Dolphins offense has been stricken with injuries, the stars that's been there from the beginning came through for the win. It's almost as if the more things change for the Dolphins, the more things stay the same.
"I think it’s something that’s kind of changed throughout the year," Tannehill said. "Obviously, losing the guys that we did, we’ve kind of had to navigate that. It’s tough. It’s tough when you lose — ultimately, we’ve lost five or six day one starters on offense when you include (Josh) Sitton, (Daniel) Kilgore, MarQueis (Gray) at tight end. Jakeem (Grant) and Albert (Wilson) played a lot. You lose those type of guys, you kind of have to shift the way you’re attacking defenses and change things. It’s tough to say exactly what our identity is at this point, but I know we’ve had to change it a couple times throughout the season."
Where do we go from here? The Dolphins are behind only the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) for the final playoff spot. Miami host the New England Patriots this coming week and the Jacksonville Jaguars with road games at Minnesota and Buffalo sandwiched in-between.
"You’re probably thinking much further down the line than I do," Dolphins defensive end Cam Wake said. "Especially in December, it’s a one-game season every week. I think everybody knows I’m not a statistical guy. I don’t count. I don’t look. But in December every game you’re playing is probably going to be meaningful. I say it all the time: it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. You’ve got about 24, 36 hours depending to enjoy it or to lick your wounds. Tuesday afternoon, you got to wipe your slate clean and get on to the next one. Playoffs and end of the season is not on my radar. I’m looking forward to, like I said, 24 hours of enjoying this win and then it’ll be on to the next game."