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Buffalo Bills can’t overcome injuries and mistakes, fall to Dolphins 21-19

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Josh Allen Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (91) grabs Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee )

The Buffalo Bills needed to have a near-flawless performance against the Miami Dolphins to make up for coming into the game missing six defensive starters. 

They did not get one.

Buffalo outgained Miami 497 yards to 212 yards. Their offense was on the field for 40 minutes and 40 seconds while Miami had the ball for just 19 minutes and 20 seconds. But the Bills simply couldn’t get out of their own way, ultimately losing 21-19. 

While the effort the team gave despite being so short-handed was admirable, they will certainly feel as though they only have themselves to blame for the loss when they go back and study the tape. 

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the banged-up defense that cost the team in the end. Despite coming into the game down six defensive starters and then losing starting cornerback Christian Benford, who has been starting this year in place of Pro Bowl corner Tre’Davious White, to a hand injury, the defense rose to the challenge. 

Their starting secondary had three combined career starts and, after the Benford injury, was forced to play Ja’Marcus Ingram, an undrafted free agent rookie who was just elevated from the practice squad. Yet, the team still held Tua Tagovailoa to 186 yards and one touchdown. 

Some of that had to do with Miami’s curious gameplan, which included calling 17 rushing plays and only 18 passing plays despite Buffalo’s inexperience in the secondary. Still, the defense is to be commended for their effort. They battled and kept a high-octane Miami offense in check. 

Sadly, the offense couldn’t make the plays they needed to help push the team across the finish line. 

Much like on the defensive side of the ball, injuries drastically changed the way the Bills’ offense was able to approach this game.

Starting center Mitch Morse was inactive with an ankle injury, so Greg Van Roten started in his place. In the middle of the game, starting right tackle Spencer Brown left with heat illness, and starting right guard Ryan Bates left with a head injury. Then, in the fourth quarter, Van Roten was injured and replaced by Greg Mancz who was, as had become the trend, signed off of the practice squad earlier in the week. 

As a result, Josh Allen was under duress for much of the game, with Miami notching four sacks and forcing two fumbles, one of which they recovered on the Buffalo seven-yard line, en route to their first touchdown.

Yet, for much of the game, Allen was still able to work the magic that it seems like only he can. With his rushing and passing yards, he accounted for 447 of Buffalo’s 497 total yards. He completed 42 passes to 11 different receivers. He continuously guided the offense on 10+ play drives while players on both teams were cramping and limping off of the field around him. 

At different points during the game, Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox, and Isaiah McKenzie all left the game. Diggs could barely run on the Bills’ final drive as they were marching to attempt a game-winning field goal. Even Allen himself had to get x-rays on his hand after the game; although, the quarterback swears he’s “fine.”

Somehow, regardless of the adversity facing him, Allen seemed to find a way, eluding tacklers and hitting Devin Singletary on a beautiful pass to extend the final drive or rushing for a first down himself.

But at the end of the day, the Bills, who fought so hard to give themselves multiple chances to win couldn’t make the plays when it counted. 

Josh Allen bounced a potential touchdown pass to McKenzie late in the fourth quarter. Gabe Davis dropped a potential touchdown pass in the second quarter. Back-up center Van Roten botched a snap with the Bills lining up to spike the ball at the end of the first half and set up a field goal. Tyler Bass missed a 38-yard field goal; his first miss since December 1st of last year. Back-up right tackle David Quessenberry was called for a hold on the final drive that moved the Bills out of field goal range.

The list of self-inflicted mistakes was long. 

On the defensive side, Matt Milano dropped an interception that seemed like a sure-fire pick-six, and Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson, who were so solid at safety for much of the game, got crossed up on a 3rd-and-22, allowing Jaylen Waddle to catch a 45-yard bomb to set up Miami’s go-ahead touchdown. 

The effort was there. The result just wasn’t, and the Bills know it.

“We didn’t take care of the ball enough and come away with takeaways,” said head coach Sean McDermott at the end of the game. 

“We beat ourselves tonight,” added Allen. “Sometimes that’s just how it goes.”

But at the end of the day, the season is not made or broken on one game in September. In fact, losses like these are often the ones that propel good teams to realize their potential, as we saw after the Bills fell to the Patriots 14-10 in the blizzard game last season then won five of their next six games before the loss to the Chiefs in the playoffs. 

“This is one game,” continued Allen. “We’ll learn from this tomorrow, take it on the chin, and prepare for next week. We’re 2-1, we can still accomplish everything we want to accomplish.”

For more Buffalo Bills coverage, like this Micah Hyde story, visit amNY Sports

Stefon Diggs and the Bills lost a battle with the Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) breaks up a pass intended for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee )

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