By Abraham Gutierrez

Last week against the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins hiked the ball into their own end zone in the early going, which proved to be a bad omen for the remainder of the game. This week against the Buffalo Bills, the Fins did it again; and to no one’s surprise, they ended up on the losing end of a 33-17 rout, dropping the season series against Rex Ryan.

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“You don’t want to start a game that way, but then again it happened,” said Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. “It’s not the worst thing in the world. You still got a whole game left, you’re down by two, you can make something happen out of it. So, no, we don’t want those things to happen, but that shouldn’t be the end of the game.”

The loss drops Miami to 3-5 on the year, as the reeling Fins have now lost two straight ballgames, are 0-4 against divisional foes and sit in the cellar of the AFC East. After making strides on the defensive side of the football since Joe Philbin’s firing, the Dolphins have taken a few steps back as the void left following Cameron Wake season-ending injury was exploited by the Bills Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Here are the Fins’ team grades as a result of Sunday’s loss.

Defense: F

For a second consecutive week, Miami’s defense struggled throughout the afternoon, failing to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Last week, the Dolphins D surrendered 36 points to Tom Brady and the Patriots. This week, they were helpless against the rush as the Bills one-two running back combo was allowed to run freely all afternoon long. The end result was ugly to say the least, as there were 18 first downs surrendered and 420 total yards allowed in a 16-point loss. In typical Rex Ryan’s fashion, the Bills’ ground-and-pound attack proved to be too much, as it wore down Miami’s resistance to the tune of 266 rushing yards.

First and second string running backs, LeSean McCoy (112 yards on 16 rushes, TD) and Karlos Williams (100 yards on 9 carries, 2 TDs) eclipsed the century mark, while mobile quarterback Tyrod Taylor also got in on the action with 44 yards on 10 carries.

With the running game working beautifully, the Virginia Tech product connected on 92 percent of his passes, going 11-for-12 for 181 yards, a touchdown and no picks for a cool quarterback rating of 146.5. Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins had an afternoon to remember, registering a game-high 168 yards on eight receptions and a score.

Offense: C-

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Offensively, the Dolphins registered 29 first downs, which is 11 more than the Bills did all afternoon long. Unfortunately, that didn’t translate into points as Miami struggled to find the end zone versus a bend-but-don’t-break Buffalo defense. When it was all said and done, the Fins racked up 397 yards of total offense, out of which, 106 came on the ground and 291 through the air.

Running back Lamar Miller lead the way with 44 yards on 12 rushes and two scores, while backup halfback Jay Ajayi pitched in with 41 yards of his own on five carries. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill did a decent job of getting rid of the football quickly and played a rather clean game statistically. The second-year man out of Texas A&M connected on 75 percent of his passes, going 27-for-36 for 309 yards. He failed to throw a single touchdown, but also avoided being picked off. Tannehill finished the game with a quarterback rating of 100.3, but was sacked twice for -27 yards.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the way in receptions with 11 grabs for 69 yards. With no shortage of check-down plays, it comes as no surprise that running back, Lamar Miller led the way in receiving yards with 97 on seven grabs, including a long of 27 yards.

Coaching: D-

A lot is going to be made of Dan Campbell’s decision to pass up on the opportunity to collect an easy three points right before the break and with good reason. With the Dolphins offense struggling the way it has over the past two weeks, and considering Miami was going to get the ball after halftime, there’s no question Campbell had to kick a field goal. Instead, the interim head coach rolled the dice, and killed what was a very productive drive up to that point.

“I believed we could gate it,” he said in retrospect. “I had faith in out guys and I thought we could make that play. I knew we were going to get the ball back in the second half, and come back out and score there and all of the sudden it’s a 14-point swing.”

However, not Campbell and his staff did to prepare for this game was necessarily ineffective. In fact, the coaching staff did a decent job of game-planning for Ryan’s blitz-happy defense by designing short passing plays in order to get the ball out of Tannehill’s hands quickly. Nevertheless, Campbell & Co. failed to make the necessary adjustments to keep things close as the game progressed, particularly against the Bills rushing attack.

“The effort is there, these guys know it. Mentally, we’re pretty good.” Campbell added. “It’s technique stuff. You get yourself in a bind and you don’t use the technique that you’ve been coached to do and those things creep up on you, and you can’t win, especially on the road.”

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Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to, and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers),, and other online publications.