ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Here are my five takeaways from the Buffalo Bills’ 26-11 victory against the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Highmark Stadium:
1. Weak might not be a strong enough word to describe the Bills’ effort on offense – or lack thereof – through the first half and much of the third quarter.
A win is a win, true. But this game shouldn’t have been anywhere near as close or competitive as it was before the Bills tacked on a touchdown in the last minute after a Dolphins turnover.
Josh Allen had an ordinary day. He completed 29 of 42 passes for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Bills’ run game was pretty much non-existent.
It seemed that, upon arrival at the stadium, Buffalo’s offense wasn’t ready to play. It was almost as if someone had yet to notify the players on that side of the ball their bye had ended.
To the Bills’ credit, they owned their lackluster first half.
“The first half was slow,” offensive tackle Dion Dawkins said. “We didn’t come out on fire, and you could see it … All I know is we played Buffalo Bills football in the second half.”
It’s also fair to at least suggest the Bills allowed their six-game winning streak against the Dolphins entering the game to negatively impact their focus and concentration. The previous dominance they’ve shown against Miami appeared to be something they believed would automatically carry them to the seventh victory in a row.
“It was the lack of opportunities we had,” Allen said. “And we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we did have.”
2. Cole Beasley provided the spark that got the Bills’ offense going in the latter stages of the third quarter. He did his usual superb work separating himself from defenders in the short and intermedia zones, especially on sideline routes.
Beasley was targeted 13 times and made 10 catches for 110 yards. He and Allen found an instant groove and that helped open other aspects of the offense.
“Consistency,” was the first word that came to Allen’s mind when asked about Beasley’s performance. “He’s just kind of a job that does his job.”
3. The Bills’ defense mostly showed up to play and maintained the dominant form it has displayed for the majority of the season.
It rendered quarterback Tua Tagovailoa mostly ineffective. He finished 21-for-39 for 205 yards and with a passer rating of 58.2. Safety Jordan Poyer intercepted Tagovailoa deep in Miami territory to seal the win with a little more than two minutes left.
The one glimmer of hope the Dolphins’ offense showed, driving deep into Bills territory just before halftime, was doused when a shotgun snap hit tight end Mike Gesicki while he was going in motion and safety Micah Hyde recovered to allow Buffalo to kill the remainder of the half.
4. There was plenty of questionable play-calling by Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Give credit to the Dolphins’ defense for doing its share to confound the Bills’ offense. Nevertheless, Daboll seemed far too conversative with the plays he called, with an emphasis on short throws to the outside.
The Bills are usually at their best offensively when they’re aggressive. The Dolphins are a bad team and it was incumbent upon the Bills to sap them of even the slightest hope from the start. Additionally, the short-yardage calls generally left a great deal to be desired.
5. Maybe this game will serve as a good wake-up call for the Bills as they continue through this ultra-soft spot on their schedule.
They can use the bit of a scare (yes, that was intentional) that the Dolphins put into them to remember that they can’t let up against any opponent.
Not the Dolphins and neither of the next two teams they face: Jacksonville and the New York Jets.