AFC East Reporter
It felt like a battle of ineptitude for many of the Buffalo Bills’ 34-31 victory over the Miami Dolphins within the wild-card spherical on Sunday.
Was it exhilarating? Sure. I’m exhausted. We are all exhausted. The recreation had each twist and switch. It ran just some minutes wanting 4 hours lengthy. There have been six touchdowns, seven turnovers (counting turnovers on downs) and 11 sacks. It was an absolute epic.
And Bills coach Sean McDermott and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel solely made it extra farcical. Both mismanaged the sport so severely that they every interfered with their workforce’s means to win the sport.
In the case of McDermott, he referred to as timeouts proper earlier than two completely different fourth-down conversion makes an attempt. And in each instances, the timeout was so late that the groups performed out the down, with Miami failing to transform. So the Dolphins bought one other probability.
On crucial fourth down of the sport — a fourth-and-1 on Miami’s remaining possession with 2:28 left, McDaniel had such a tough time getting in a play that his workforce dedicated a delay of recreation penalty. After the sport, McDaniel stated that he had been knowledgeable by his employees that the Dolphins had gotten a primary down on the earlier play. They have been getting ready a first-down name once they realized they have been really dealing with fourth down. And then, as a result of they didn’t have a fourth-down playcall prepared, they have been late to make the choice.
“The plays got in a little later than I would prefer — at least once or twice,” McDaniel stated.
The Dolphins needed to take the delay of recreation as a result of the workforce spent all three of its timeouts on comparable conditions when McDaniel & Co. could not talk the play quick sufficient.
Overall, there was messiness from each groups at essential moments. And that made for a tense and wild fourth quarter when absolutely anything appeared potential.
It felt prefer it was over when Skylar Thompson misfired to Mike Gesicki close to the sideline on fourth-and-6 with 2:28 left. (And it was a tough play for Thompson, who had Tyreek Hill open and streaking over the center.)
But you simply by no means knew with this recreation. It actually got here right down to the ultimate snap when Josh Allen took a knee. And Allen made simply sufficient large performs for his workforce to eke out victory over Thompson, Hill and Jaylen Waddle. There can be no scarcity of performs that Allen needs again, together with a handful of deep pictures the place he took pointless dangers.
There was a silver lining within the mess. The Bills’ secondary managed a pair of interceptions. Cornerback Kaiir Elam had an unlimited interception within the second half. But maybe extra notable was security Dean Marlowe’s interception. He has taken over the beginning function for Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the sphere within the Bills-Bengals recreation just some weeks in the past.
Hamlin attended the workforce’s walkthrough Saturday, per McDermott.
“For him to be in the building, it brought smiles and happy tears to everyone,” Marlowe stated postgame. “All we needed was to see his face. … It was amazing.”
Allen completed the sport finishing simply 59% of his passes for 352 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He additionally had a fumble that Miami returned for a landing. That fumble got here on one in all Allen’s seven sacks.
“The turnovers — they really hurt us,” Allen stated postgame. “They really let them back in the game.”
Ultimately, his brilliance outweighed his boneheadedness — and that is how Buffalo got here to win. And his most excellent throw was in all probability his landing to receiver Gabe Davis with two minutes left within the third quarter. It wasn’t crunch time, nevertheless it was the play that actually helped Buffalo pull forward to a degree the place the Bills may defend their lead.
Buffalo advances to play the Bengals, in the event that they win Sunday night time, or the Jacksonville Jaguars subsequent week. Buffalo’s Super Bowl run continues.
Miami wanted chaos to win with Thompson. And it bought that. But it additionally wanted large video games from Hill and Waddle. And neither receiver stepped up in the way in which the Dolphins wanted. Hill had simply 69 yards on seven catches and Waddle had three catches on seven targets for 44 yards. They struggled with separation. McDaniel struggled to get Thompson doing the appropriate issues throughout the offense. And Miami merely appeared like a workforce held again by their third-stringer.
After the sport, McDaniel spoke concerning the future with beginning QB Tua Tagovailoa, who stays in concussion protocol.
“I think we all see him as the leader of this team,” the coach stated. “When it’s appropriate for him to lead this team, we’ll jump on that opportunity. He’s a great player with only improvement in front of him.”
But with a handful of different choices, the Dolphins may get a case of wandering eyes. And not simply at quarterback. There’s cause to marvel if Miami may additionally make a change at head coach. McDaniel actually struggled because the Dolphins misplaced six of their final seven video games (together with the postseason). It could be a mistake, from my vantage level, if the Dolphins fired their first-year head coach. But groups make errors each offseason.
Miami may be headed for a clumsy offseason through which the quarterback and coach must cross their fingers and hope GM Chris Grier and proprietor Stephen Ross are keen to take a seat tight.
Prior to becoming a member of FOX Sports because the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years protecting the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.
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