GAME REVIEW WEEK 16 2016
Miami Can't Be Accused Of Being Dull
What is it with this team, yet again they manage to come away with another win. 30 first downs, 272 yards on the ground, 317 through the air and a 7 minute advantage in time of possession, and no that isn't the Dolphins stats. You would think those figures are of a winning team, well on this occasion you would be wrong because you are dealing with the 2016 Miami Dolphins who have found new ways of winning week in, week out and this was no exception. It was a heart pulsing, nail biting contest that in true reality the Buffalo Bills should have won, but luckily on this day the footballing gods were smiling down on Miami, did they ever.
It took the teams five minutes to warm up, but after Jay Ajayi turned a seemingly big loss into a two yard touchdown run the game never slowed down with both teams trading punches until the bitter end. The run was a prime example of what Ajayi is all about, if you give him an inch he will take a mile, bouncing off and running through defenders with relative ease. For the second game this season Rex Ryan would have no answer on how to stop the J-train. By game end the London born runner would chalk up his third 200 yard game of the season and join elite company by being only the fourth player in NFL history to have reached the mark. It wasn't just Ajayi though as Kenyan Drake got in on the act following a missed field goal by ex Dolphin kicker Dan Carpenter who pulled the ball right after a prolonged Bills drive. He took the hand-off, ran into the middle of the line, got stacked up and bounced back out, did a huge loop back round to the right and then outran everybody for a 45 yard score.
By now the Bills were 14-0 down and seemingly had no answer to the Dolphins attack and things didn't get any better as their next possession would stall on the Dolphins 39 yard line when they came up short trying to convert a fourth and one. Fortunately this didn't come back to bite them as they soon got the ball back and registered their first score when Tyrod Taylor hit a well covered Sammy Watkins on a beautifully thrown ball in the back of the end-zone. Before the half Miami had the chance of extending their lead but Matt Moore threw an interception in the endzone so Miami went into the half with a seven point advantage and would get the ball first after the break.
It didn't take them long to add to their tally, five plays to be precise. Moore hit Devante Parker for a short completion on the Dolphins 48 and with the help of some poor tackling Parker found himself running free towards the end-zone, 21-7 just like that. The Bills however weren't in the mood for just lying down, they took the following kick-off and moved with ease down the field, capping it with a 19 yard TD run by LeSean McCoy. Miami came right back though with Moore hitting Kenny Stills for his eighth touchdown of the year, the drive was helped along by a great individual 44 yard catch and run from Damien Williams that set them up in Buffalo territory. It was now 28-14 with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter. Taylor however wasn't done with the quarter as he hit a wide open Sammy Watkins for a 53 yard completion and then found Charles Clay for an eighteen yard score. The game was turning into a ping pong match with each team trading body blows. When the 4th quarter finally ticked round the score was 28-21 in Miami's favour, but not for long....
At the start of the final period Andrew Franks missed a 46 yard field goal and then Buffalo scored ten unanswered points giving them their first lead of the game with 90 ticks of the clock left. It looked very grim for Miami, but then this is no ordinary team. Drake took the kick-off on the goal line and returned it 39 yards, not sure what he was thinking but it payed off. On 2nd and 10 Moore hit Stills for 17 which got them to the Bills 44, still not close enough because Franks is by no means automatic from over 45. The Dolphins needed about 20 yards in 46 seconds but had no timeouts to stop the clock. The 3rd and 10 play was called in and Moore hit Williams for a 7 yard completion, that is all fine but he didn't get out of bounds and kept fighting for yards. When the play was whistled dead Franks had to run out and attempt a 55 yard field goal without the usual pre-kick ritual. The ball was sent on it's way and by some small miracle it had just enough legs and the right direction to limp over the uprights, it was soooo close, but close is good enough.
It meant that this epic battle would carry on into overtime and the nerves would have to be tested for some time more. The Bills received the ball first and moved down the field without much opposition until Neville Hewitt came up with a great play on 2nd and 12 when he tackled Reggie Bush for an eight yard loss, Taylor couldn't do anything on the next play and fortunately neither could Carpenter on the play after when he missed wide right. The Dolphins had to punt after not being able to do anything, this would mean the game was in sudden death and every yard would be vital because a field goal would now seal it. The field advantage swung in Miami's favour when Marqueis Grey saved the punt from going into endzone for a touchback, setting the Bills at their four yard line. They proceeded to drive down the filed but came up short when Ndamukong Suh tipped a short pass on 3rd and 2 meaning they had to punt the ball back to Miami. The first play from scrimmage and Ajayi found a crease and was off too the races, 57 yards later he was pulled down at the Buffalo 28 and the Dolphins were in the driving seat. A handful of running plays later and Franks found himself attempting a 27 yard chip shot. The kick was good and we could all breath a sigh of relief, what a game.
As we said at the start the Dolphins gave up a load of yards on the ground; Usually not being able to stop the run doesn't make for a winning formula but somehow Adam Gase is bucking the trend. One thing that is making this even more impressive is that key players have been lost along the way but yet the winning keeps coming. We have since learnt that Isa Abdul-Quddus has been placed on IR following the game, so both starting safeties have now been lost, next man up is Michael Thomas, the same Michael Thomas who picked off Tom Brady pass in the end zone to seal a win for the Dolphins, hmmm......