Bills beat Dolphins; advance to playoffs

Posted Dec 31, 2017

Buffalo pulled off a big win in Miami and with a Ravens loss have advanced to the playoffs.

Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Regular season records: Buffalo (9-7), Miami (6-10)

In a nutshell:
In their first meeting with the Dolphins two weeks ago, a fast start on offense helped carry the Bills to victory. Buffalo chose a similar approach in Week 17 and it proved just as fruitful. The Bills put 10 points on the board on their first two possessions and maintained control of the game in what wound up being a 22-16 win over Miami.

Buffalo then got the help they needed with a dramatic comeback victory by the Cincinnati Bengals over the Baltimore Ravens, allowing the Bills to qualify for their first postseason in 17 seasons.

The other potential way into the playoffs was wiped out with the Chargers beating the Raiders and the Titans beating the Jaguars.

The victory gave the Bills their first winning season since 2014, when they had an identical 9-7 record, but at the game’s conclusion they still did not know their playoff fate because the Baltimore-Cincinnati game was not yet complete.

The Dolphins made the game look closer than it was with a pair of late touchdown drives. Miami made it interesting recovering an onsides kick with under two minutes to play, but Jordan Poyer ended the threat with his fifth interception of the season to seal the win.

Head coach Sean McDermott became only the fourth head coach in team history to post a winning record in his first full season as head coach.

Buffalo also lost LeSean McCoy to an ankle injury in the second half and he was carted off the field.

How it went down:
-For the second time this season the Bills posted a touchdown on their opening drive. Tyrod Taylor found a wide-open Nick O’Leary in the back, right side of the end zone with a 26-yard touchdown pass (7-0) just five minutes into the game.

-The Bills would push their lead to 10-0 after Stephen Hauschka put a 23-yard attempt up and through to cap an 11-play, 80-yard drive just 14 seconds into the fourth quarter.

-Buffalo put a field goal on the board on their first drive of the second half. Hauschka hit from 49 yards away to give the Bills a 13-0 advantage with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

-Kyle Williams scored his first career touchdown, when while lined up as a fullback on first-and-goal from the one, took the hand-off for a one-yard plunge into the end zone to make it 19-0 midway through the third quarter. Buffalo’s two-point conversion failed.

-The Dolphins finally got on the board with 2:30 left in the third quarter when Cody Parkey hit from 36 yards out to make it a 19-3 game.

-A 10-play, 60-yard drive by the Bills culminated in a 33-yard field goal by Hauschka to push Buffalo’s lead to 22-3 with just over 11 minutes remaining.

-Miami reached the end zone on a one-yard touchdown pass from David Fales to Jarvis Landry, but the two-point conversion failed with six minutes remaining to make it a 22-9 ball game.

-Miami scored a second touchdown late on a keeper by David Fales for one yard score to make it 22-16 with 1:56 left in regulation.

-After the Bills went up 7-0, the Dolphins chose to pull Jay Cutler at quarterback and insert third-year player David Fales to get an evaluation on him for the future.

-LeSean McCoy suffered an ankle injury early in the third quarter and was carted off the field. He did not return to the game. He had 11 carries for 10 yards and a pair of receptions for 22 yards.

-Jordan Mills suffered a left ankle injury in the first half. He left the game and returned briefly, but was ultimately replaced by Seantrel Henderson.

-Preston Brown had what looked to be a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was called back as officials said Jarvis Landry was out of bounds with the ball at the half-yard line before the fumble.

-Jarvis Landry, Kenyan Drake were thrown out of the game after Landry went after Jordan Poyer following a touchdown by the Dolphins. Landry threw a punch. Poyer did not. Drake was thrown out of the game for ripping Ryan Davis’ helmet off and throwing it across the field.  

-Tyrod Taylor went 19-27 for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 36 yards on four carries.

-Marcus Murphy in his first action for the Bills had seven carries for 41 yards

-Buffalo’s offense on their first two drives ratcheted up the tempo running plays quickly after the ball was spotted from the previous play and were rewarded for it. The Bills got a pair of plays that moved the sticks on their second drive and a touchdown on their opening drive when they increased the pace of running plays.

-The Bills scored a touchdown on their opening drive for just the second time this season. The first time came against this same Dolphins team two weeks ago.

-Inactive for Buffalo on Sunday were WR Malachi Dupre, CB Shareece Wright, CB Breon Borders, OT Conor McDermott, G John Miller, TE Logan Thomas and WR Brandon Reilly.