By Abraham GutierrezREAD MORE: New Travel Restrictions In Place, Dow Drops 905 Points Over New COVID Variant Concerns
On a picturesque Sunday afternoon in South Florida, running back Jay Ajayi became only the fourth player in NFL history to record consecutive 200-yard rushing games, helping the Miami Dolphins snap the Buffalo Bills 4-game win streak with a gutsy, 28-25 victory. With his herculean 214-yard effort, the second-year man out of Boise State joined O.J. Simpson (1973 & 1976), Earl Campbell (1980) and former Dolphin Ricky Williams (2002) as the only halfbacks ever to eclipse the 200-yard mark in back-to-back games.
The win improves Miami’s record to 3-4 on the season, which is good enough for third place in the AFC East. Meanwhile, the Bills dropped to 4-3 on the year, but thanks to their recent hot streak remain in second place in the division behind the New England Patriots – who took on the Pittsburgh Steelers this week sans Ben Roethlisberger.
Offensively, this game would be best described as the tale of two halves, which also justifies this unit receiving an A-grade rather than a perfect A+ score. Despite Ajayi’s efforts on the ground, Miami was only able to muster a pair of field goals through two quarters and went into the break trailing Buffalo by a score of 10-6.
However, Adam Gase must have given a heck of a speech at halftime, as his team came out and took over the ball game from that point forward. Miami’s offense would go on to dominate the second half of the game, outscoring Buffalo 22-7, including a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter.
When it was all said and done, the Dolphins closed things out with 26 first downs, 454 yards (256 rushing yards and 198 passing yards) of total offense, went 5-for-12 on third downs and did not turn the ball over once. Aside from Ajayi’s historic efforts, Tannehill went 15-for-25 for 204 yards and a score, while Kenny Stills recorded 5 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown and Jarvis Landry pitched in with 5 receptions of his own for 78 yards.
If it weren’t for silly penalties and unforced errors, the Dolphins’ defense would’ve also received a perfect A+ letter-grade this week. Instead, this unit kept leaving the door open for Rex Ryan’s bunch, and they did a good job of keeping hope alive. This is evident by the misleading 3-point differential in final score, as things weren’t nearly as close after the break.READ MORE: Black Friday Shoppers Out Early Hoping To Score Deals
Having said that, it’s worth noting that Miami’s resistance did a great job of shutting down a Bills rushing attack that came in ranked No.1 in the National Football League, averaging 166.3 rushing yards per game. Today, Ryan’s squad was limited to 267 total yards, out of which, 200 came though the air and a miserable 67 on the ground.
The Dolphins’ “D” also limited the Bills to just 16 first downs, 3-for-13 on third-down efficiency, and sacked Tyrod Taylor four times for 21 total yards lost. Cameron Wake led the way with 1.5 sacks, Jason Jones and Ndamukong Suh domed Taylor once each, and Andre Branch also got in on the action with a half sack to his name.
Special Teams: A+
No news is good news for the Miami Dolphins’ special teams unit, as everyone did their job for 60 minutes. After a rocky effort last week, kicker Andrew Franks had a perfect afternoon (2-for-2 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra-points), while punter Matt Darr continued to state his case as a Pro Bowler with 5 boots for an average of 41.0 yards, one placed inside the Bills’ 20, and a beautiful punt that went for 75 yards.
Despite doing a great job, on both sides of the football, the only reason Gase and his coaching staff aren’t worthy of an A+ grade is because of penalties. In total, Miami was penalized 13 times for a total of 116 yards, which could’ve come back to bite them. The worst part is that the Dolphins’ mishaps didn’t only come from penalties that could’ve been easily avoided – such as unnecessary personal fouls and excessive celebration flags – but more so, because they kept a dangerous team like Buffalo in the game.
Up Next: What A Difference Two Weeks Make
After a dreadful 1-4 start, Gase and the Dolphins head into their bye week riding a two-game win streak and feeling very optimistic heading into the second half of the season. With a healthy offensive line, this team has been able to run the football effectively, which opens things up for play-action plays downfield, and gives their quarterback time.MORE NEWS: Cold Fronts Bring More Than Just Cool Dry Air To South Florida
Also, another huge difference during the last couple of weeks is the play of Tannehill. In his fifth season out of Texas A&M, the Lubbock, Texas native has completed 68 percent of his passes, completing 39-of-57 attempts for 456 yards and a touchdown for a combined quarterback rating of 98.4. Nevertheless, the most important stat heading into the bye, is the fact that he’s only been sacked once during a two-game span, which is only the third time that’s happened in his entire NFL career.