By Abraham Gutierrez

Thanks to a pair of late touchdowns, the Miami Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills 22-9 in what was certainly a must-win in order to keep the Fins’ NFL playoff hopes alive. The atmosphere was electric as the sold-out Sun Life Stadium crowd was delighted by yet another all-around performance. 

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Excluding a first-half turnover, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sensational, as he continues to evolve before everyone’s eyes. On the other side of the football, Miami’s defense was dominant, keeping Kyle Orton and the Bills out of the end zone for the duration of the game. 

Miami Dolphins Offense: A- 

Offensively, Miami outworked Buffalo in every facet of the game including: first downs (24-13), total yards (330-237), time of possession (32:22 vs. 27:38), third-down efficiency (4-for-9 vs. 6-for-15), net rushing yards (125-54) and net passing yards (205-183). 

With those types of statistics, most people would question why the Fins’ offensive performance wasn’t good enough for an A+ grade. The answer to that question is very simple – it’s impossible to categorize last night’s showing as “perfect” when the O-line surrendered five sacks and Tannehill coughed up the rock inside the Red Zone. 

Nevertheless, one has to give credit when it’s due, as the following names played a huge role in Miami’s victory Thursday night: Lamar Miller (15 carries, 86 yards), Brian Hartline (3 receptions, 55 yards), Jarvis Landry (5 receptions, 46 yards, TD, fumble) and Brandon Gibson (2 receptions, 13 yards, TD). 

Miami Dolphins Quarterback: A 

Completing almost 77 percent of his pass attempts, Tannehill continues to evolve into the franchise quarterback the Dolphins envisioned when they drafted him with eighth overall pick in 2012. As mentioned above, the 26-year-old from Lubbock, Texas, was a botched fumble away from a flawless performance. 

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Versus a Bills defense that ranked seventh in points and passing yards, Tannehill connected on 26 of his 34 attempts for 240 yards and a pair of touchdowns for an outstanding quarterback rating of 114.8. He also rushed for 16 yards on 4 carries, but fumbled the ball inside the Bills’ 20-yard line, which always takes point off the board. 

Tannehill also did a poor job of getting rid of the football in pressure situations, as Buffalo’s five sacks accounted for 35 negative yards of offense. And while a sack is certainly better than a turnover, he must learn to pick his battles before becoming an elite NFL quarterback. 

Miami Dolphins Defense: A+ 

It was yet another dominant performance for Miami’s defense, as the Bills were forced to settle for three Dan Carpenter field goals through the first three quarters, before pitching a shutout in the final stanza. 

The defense was without question the determining factor in this game, especially after the break when the Fins surrendered just three points. Thus, the Dolphins’ defensive units is now ranked second in the NFL in total yards (302.5) and passing yards (208.0) per game, as well as third in the league in points (18.0) and eighth against the run (94.5). 

Miami Dolphins Special Teams: A- 

Much like in the case of Tannehill, it’s impossible to give the special teams unit an A+ valuation when Jarvis Landry fumbled the ball during a punt return. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that kicker Caleb Sturgis (2-2 field goals and XPA, 8 points) and Pro Bowl punter Brandon Fields (3 punts, 41.0 average, 2 inside Bills’ 20-yard line) too care of their respective duties, which also contributed to Miami’s big win. 

For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.

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Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .