The Miami Dolphins got themselves a big win and advantage in the AFC East over the Buffalo Bills, beating their rivals 22-19 in an ugly game that was finally busted open in the second half through some very good passing from Ryan Tannehill.
The teams traded field goals with the Bills leading 9-3 until Miami scored the first touchdown of the game. Only 2:18 left on the clock in the third quarter when Brandon Gibson caught a 7-yard pass to give the Dolphins the lead again. A minute later, the excellent pressure from the Dolphin led to intentional grounding by Kyle Orton in the end zone and a call for a safety. The Dolphins finished the job in fourth quarter with another touchdown and a field goal.
Tannehill for the most part kept things simple, completing 25-of-28 passes for 223 yards and his two touchdown passes on throws traveling 10 yards or less. Completing 89% of his passes on the short distance is a career high for him. It worked particularly well with Jarvis Landry, targeted five times and finishing with five receptions. All those catches came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, including the fourth quarter touchdown which finally put the Dolphins out of reach for the Bills.
It wasn’t a very good day for Kyle Orton. He didn’t throw any interceptions, but had no touchdowns as well, and generally struggled against the blitz. The Dolphins attacked him on 14 of 32 dropbacks, limiting him to only 5-of-13 for 47 yards and a sack. It’ no surprise, as the Dolphins, along with the Houston Texans, are the only two teams in the NFL with a positive defensive efficiency when blitzing the quarterback.
Orton was sacked twice, but the Bills are even better when attacking the quarterback. However, they do it with standard pressure, getting to Tannehill five times during the game. Mario Williams record 3.5 of those sacks, reaching double figures for the season once again. But it didn’t shake Tannehill who overall completed 26-of-34 passes nor did it slow down the running game, with 125 yards on 245 carries, led by Lamar Miller with 86 yards on 15 attempts.
With four losses, it’s probably a bit too much to ask for the Dolphins; they’re not going to catch up with the Patriots. But making the playoffs in the AFC? They’re on the right pace and most of the time look like a team that are capable of finishing the job. The protection around Tannehill continues to be iffy, which is affecting the running game. But their quarterback manages to stay away from trouble even when blitzed, or at least he’s learning how. If he can keep that trend going, they might finally be able to end their now six-year playoff drought. The Bills, at 5-5, are probably going to wait a little longer, something their fans are used to.