By Abraham Gutierrez

The Miami Dolphins closed out the season with an ugly 22-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills that was indicative of their 2017 NFL campaign. A nasty scuffle that led to multiple ejections and a turnover to shut the door on any hopes of a fourth-quarter comeback will be some of the hot topics in the coming days.

After going 10-6 with a playoff appearance last season, the Fins finished the year on a three-game skid for an overall record of 6-10. With many questions surrounding personnel changes for next season, head coach Adam Gase did his best to not get too ahead of himself following the game.

“We’re all going to have to take some time to decompress, come back, review the season, really start there,” he said. “It’s hard to say ‘here’s exactly what we’re going to do’ cause when you’re in the middle of the season or towards the end of the season you’re just focused on that.”

Offense: C-

Offensively, Miami tallied 19 first downs (13 passes, 5 rushes and a penalty) and finished the day with 357 yards of total offense (264 passing yards and 93 rushing yards). The Fins also did well on third downs, which has been a problem area all season, converting 6-of-15 opportunities and 1-for-2 on fourth downs. 

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible effort by this unit, especially considering quarterback Jay Cutler played one series before David Fales took over for the remainder of the game. But considering the anti-climatic way in which the game ended, it’s nearly impossible to grant a more respectable letter-grade.

Cutler went 1-for-2 from the field for 6 yards while Fales connected on 29-of-42 pass attempts for 266 yards, a touchdown and a costly interception that ended the game, to earn a passer-rating of 84.0.

Running back Kenyan Drake (14 carries, 75 yards) led the way in the rushing department before being ejected followed by the aforementioned Fales (4 carries, 8 yards, TD), who scored the first rushing touchdown of his NFL career.

Through the air, wide receiver Jarvis Landry (9 receptions, 92 yards, TD) was the high man (prior to also being disqualified) and fellow wideout DeVante Parker (6 receptions, 65 yards) also made the most of his opportunities.

Defense: F

Defensively, Miami’s resistance had an afternoon to forget, as Buffalo scored in every quarter and moved the ball seemingly at will. Statistically, the Dolphins “D” allowed 22 first downs (9 passes, 8 rushes, 5 penalties) and 313 yards of total offense (186 passing yards, 127 rushing yards).

Bills signal-caller Tyrod Taylor did whatever he wanted on the field, completing 19-of-27 passes for 204 yards, a touchdown and no picks to earn an eye-popping 104.6 quarterback rating. Miami was also unable to stop the run, as Marcus Murphy rushed for 41 yards on 7 carries, followed by Mike Tolbert (7 carries, 39 yards) and the aforementioned Taylor (7 carries, 36 yards).

Statistical leaders for Miami’s defensive unit included Chase Allen with 8 tackles and Cameron Wake with 1.5 sacks. The Dolphins lost the turnover (1-0) and the time of possession battle (31 minutes and 4 seconds to 28 minutes and 58 seconds) in this one.

Special Teams: A+

After a rough day at the office a week ago, punter Matt Haack was back to his old self with 4 punts for an average of 46.5 yards, 1 placed inside the Bills’ 20-yard line and a long boot of 55 yards. Kicker Cody Parkey went 1-for-1 on field goals and extra-points.

They also combined yet again to recover an onside kick that put Miami in a position to win the game with less than two minutes left in the game. And finally, Senorise Perry had a solid outing with a pair of kick returns for 59 yards, highlighted by a return of 37 yards.  

Coaching: F

The Dolphins coaching staff did a lot of positive things tonight, but more of the same issues came back to bite them. Offensively, they did a much better job on third downs, but penalties and negative yards were once again too much to overcome.

Miami finished the day with a whopping 14 penalties for an unbelievable 144 negative yards. After the contest, Gase did his best to asses the season from beginning to end, as Miami heads into an offseason filled with uncertainty.

“I was looking at a lot of the things that happened this season as a positive, thinking ‘if adversity strikes and there’s ways to overcome it, when you do those are your building blocks’,” Gase said in regards to the Fins tumultuous season. “Really, that’s what gave me so much excitement here at the end of the season, especially going into the last Buffalo game thinking all the things that we’ve been through and were right there in the mix and we have a chance to, really, right the ship and we just couldn’t get it done.” 

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