Sometimes, a few good things come together for the Buffalo Bills. The defense finally showed up, getting 3 sacks and forcing three turnovers, while the highly erratic Ryan Fitzpatrick played his most conservative game this season while special teams did all of the scoring.
Fitzpatrick didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, just moved the chains. He finished with 17-27 for 168 yards, which was still better than Ryan Tannehill’s nightmare of a night, throwing two interceptions, completing just 50% of his passes, throwing for 141 yards.
In fact, Fitzpatrick didn’t take any risks at all, by not attempting a pass 15 or more yards downfield. This was Fitzpatrick’s sixth game this season where he attempted five or fewer passes of that distance, tied for second-most in the NFL, as the Bills try and curb his knack for going for the big play and often failing. His ability to handle pressure much better than most of the season also stood out. He was 8-10 when the Dolphins sent five or more pass rushers, while completing 61.4% of his passes under that kind of pressure throughout the season.
And it wasn’t like the Bills had an exceptional running game against a stout run defense from the Miami Dolphins. They did finish with 120 yards on 31 runs, mostly eating up the clock, with C.J. Spiller finishing with 91 yards on 22 carries, but there wasn’t anything really impressive about the way the Bills ran their offense except the patience which it isn’t known for.
This was the defense’s day, after going into the game ranked 31st in the NFL, allowing 31.7 points per game. They limited the Dolphins to only 184 yards and 16 first downs. There was no Miami running game, as Reggie Bush was limited once again to only 20 yards on 10 carries and the team in total finished with only 60 yards on the ground.
It was also about the big plays, forcing two turnovers on the final two drives: Once an interception by Jairus Byrd, who also had a fumble recovery, and finally by Bryan Scott on the Dolphins’ final drive with less than a minute left in the game, ending any chance of erasing the 14-19 deficit.
This was about pride, and proving that all the criticism against this unit this season for being soft and simply easy to break was misplaced. I’m just happy everyone saw what the Bills are all about. We’re not no pushover. We’re a whole `nother team. With the way things turned out earlier in the season, we’ve got to come out and play like it’s the playoffs. And we’ve got to make plays and we’ve got to finish. It got close there at the end, but I’m glad we came out with it.
Mario Williams was a name often mentioned during this season, for his injury, for his disappointing production and obviously his very big contract. Williams finished the game with a sack and two more tackles for a loss. For once, the Bills actually looked like an intimidating defensive team.
The points went to special teams: One opening touchdown via a punt return by Leodis McKelvin, taking it home for 79 yards, and the rest via the kicker Rian Lindell, making four field goals.