In a game that had a few odd happenings, Josh Allen had his second career game in a row. The cannon armed kid from the farmlands of California was criticized by many as needing some work in his game after being drafted. This season it’s starting to look like that his work is paying off. Throwing for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, he eclipsed his first 300-yard outing last week. The Bills offense at least early on, seems to have adapted an air game that takes shots downfield with confidence. After having a reputation for a ground and pound team and the passing game relying heavily on play action in recent years, Brian Daboll has unleashed Allen upon the NFL. While the offense excelled, the defense without starting linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano looked softer, especially in the middle of the field.
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Devin Singletary started the Bills off with a run up the middle for 14-yards. If the Dolphins took that as a sign of a heavy running attack plan, they would be mistaken. Allen did have a few inaccurate throws early on. He quickly shook those off and his first of nine completions that went for over 20 yards, was a 25-yard strike to Stefon Diggs. It’s worth noting, cornerback Byron Jones, the Dolphins big free agent acquisition this off season, went out early in the first quarter with a groin injury and did not return. A drive that started at their own 3-yard line because of a well-placed punt was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie and undrafted free agent tight end Reggie Gillium. His first in the NFL. Ryan Fitzpatrick had some of his magic this game and drove Miami right back for a touchdown. The biggest play was a 26-yard perfectly placed throw to Preston Williams who used a toe drag and was out of bounds at the Bills 2-yard line. The catch was even more impressive because Bills elite cornerback Tre’Davious White was cleanly beaten by Williams. The Bills next possession lasted only one play as tight end Dawson Knox fumbled away the ball after a 38-yard catch. Knox is getting the unwanted reputation of not being able to hang on to the ball and later left the game with a concussion. The quarter ended with the Bills and Dolphins tied at 7.
After the Bills defense forced a quick three and out the Bills scored their second touchdown of the game. This time on a well-timed 22-yard crossing route from Allen to Diggs for his first in a Bills uniform. Their next possession was a long six plus minute drive that started with rookie running back Zack Moss handling the ball four consecutive times for 27-yards. Singletary got into the action too with an impressive 18-yard run on the drive. Both Moss and Singletary ran with power, using the stiff-arm multiple times to gain extra yards. The end result was a 39-yard field goal made by rookie kicker Tyler Bass. The Dolphins would get a field goal of their own and the half ended with the Bills up 17 – 10.
Less than a minute into the second half the game was delayed by lightning in the area lasting about 30 minutes. Both teams headed back to the locker rooms just shortly after coming onto the field from them. Upon returning after getting the all clear, Miami looked refreshed and the Bills defense didn’t as Fitzpatrick gained first downs by attacking the middle of the field with short passes. The late coverage was noticeable without Edmunds and Milano roaming this area. The drive was aided by a questionable call on Micah Hyde being flagged for an illegal block above the waist that looked to be just a solid, jarring hit. The damage was limited to another Miami field goal to narrow Buffalo’s lead to four points. If the defense looked out of rhythm after the delay, the offense was just as out of sync. The next two possessions lasted only eight plays and gained only 28 yards. It was a third quarter to forget as those were the only drives the Bills had.
The Dolphins needed ten plays to travel just 44 yards but it resulted in Jordan Howard getting into the end zone and giving them a 20 – 17 lead. This was the first time the Bills trailed this season. It may have been a wake-up call because right away Allen connected with Diggs for another long hookup. This one gaining 47 yards to the Miami 28-yard line. Diggs would finish the game with eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. Fourth round pick rookie Gabriel Davis scored his first touchdown as a pro later with an impressive and memorable catch. Davis extended his length with a dive, snatching the ball with the ends of his fingers and secured it under his left hand as he hit the ground. That gave the Bills back the lead and they wouldn’t trail again. Allen collected his fourth passing touchdown of the game with yet another deep ball. This time to John Brown who got behind the defense and scored untouched on a 46-yard reception. With just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter Fitzpatrick would not go away quietly. He again used short passes to his running back Myles Gaskin and hit tight end Mike Gesicki for a 2-yard score. Gesicki gave the Bills defense fits all day with eight catches for 130 yards and the one touchdown. Miami closed the deficit to just 3 on the 2-point conversion but with only 49 seconds left. Micah Hyde made a leaping grab on Miami’s on sides kick and the game ended with Allen and the Bills in the victory formation. The final score Bills – 31 Dolphins – 28.
TIDBITS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
– Allen’s 400-yard performance was the first for a Bills quarterback since Drew Bledsoe did it in a win against the Minnesota Vikings back in 2002. He finished with 417 yards, completing 24 passes on 35 attempts for a completion percentage of over 68 percent. His four touchdown passes give him six on the young season and seven in total. All this adds up to a passer rating of 147.
– What a difference Stefon Diggs makes. His presence on the Bills has transformed the entire look of the passing game. Diggs had a great day, catching eight balls for 153 yards and a score. The confidence Allen has for his receiving trio is visible.
– Speaking of the trio, the other wide receivers had very good games also. John Brown had 4 catches for 82 yards for an impressive 20.5 yards per catch and his second touchdown of the season. Cole Beasley made clutch first down catches across the middle of the field and had five catches for 70 yards.
– The running game was improved from the roadblock it hit against the Jets in week 1. On just 18 carries between them for the second week, Singletary gained 56 yards on ten runs while Moss had 37 yards on eight carries. It’s a small sample size but the Bills look to be a pass heavy team this season.
– The defense didn’t have a good game stopping Fitzpatrick who threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. It seems they will continue to struggle with linebacker coverage until they get their starters back from injury. The run D held Miami to just under 100 yards, giving up 99 but at a rate of 4.5 yards per carry.
It was a strange game with starts, stops and stutters. The poor showing on both sides of the ball in the third quarter gave the Dolphins confidence for a comeback. Ryan Fitzpatrick shook off his mistakes from week 1 and picked on the depleted Bills defense. He used what he was given and kept drives alive as well as Miami’s chances. Fitzpatrick was impressive enough to earn another start next week and keep his replacement, fifth overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, on the bench. It was a game similar to last week’s win, that felt like a more dominating effort than the final score displayed. Wins are difficult to come by in the NFL no matter who you play. Getting two early wins against division foes is a great start. The accuracy, confidence and decision making of Josh Allen is a big leap forward from last season. Staying healthy remains a top priority with the additional loss of Knox who has a good chance of missing time going through the concussion protocol. This is a fun team to watch and Bills fans should be excited. Next Sunday one team will be dealt its first loss of the season as the Bills play host to the 2-0 Los Angeles Rams.