Top 3 things we learned from Bills-Dolphins

Posted Dec 17, 2017

Tyrod Taylor's production against Miami continued, big plays were kept to a minimum by Buffalo's 'D' and the Dolphins stingy third down defense wasn't an issue.

1 – Taylor likes playing Miami
We all knew going into the game that Tyrod Taylor has a good history against Miami in terms of personal production. Sure, the Bills were just 2-2 against the Dolphins in Taylor’s four previous starts, but don’t look at Taylor for much of those failures. Coming into Sunday’s game he had completed almost 67 percent of his passes with eight passing touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had a rushing touchdown.

In Sunday’s win, he did little to sway the opinion that the Dolphins bring out the best in him. The Bills had three first-half touchdown drives and Taylor was obviously at the controls for all of them.

Taylor went 5-6 passing on the opening drive for 60 yards including a 25-yard hook up with Nick O’Leary to set up first-and-goal, before LeSean McCoy took a hand-off for a four-yard touchdown run.

The Bills quarterback also ran wide left on a first-and-goal play from the nine-yard line and reached the pylon for the team’s second touchdown.

“The play is actually designed to go up the middle and they inserted the safety,” said Taylor. “He’s the free guy and basically I have to make him miss. I think when I was able to get behind the linemen and make a jump cut to the left, now I know it’s just me and him and I was able to get to the pylon. I was able to do so. The linemen did a great job of blocking as well as the receivers outside.”

Taylor later found LeSean McCoy in a mismatch on a 16-yard touchdown pass right before the half for the team’s third touchdown of the first half and a 15-point lead at the break.

“I’ve got to have better contain, I will tell you that,” said Ndamukong Suh of Taylor. “He was on point. He made a lot of great passes and made plays.”

In five career games against the Dolphins, Taylor now has a 65 percent completion percentage, nine passing touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating of 115.6. He’s also run 38 times for 193 yards and a pair of TDs.

“Tyrod did a good job of really getting a lot of people involved in the passing game,” said head coach Sean McDermott. “I thought Rick (Dennison) called a really good game, so it was good to see. In particular to score three times in that first half was big.”

2 – Defense limits big plays
Coming into the game Sunday, the Dolphins had 34 plays of 20 yards or more in their last eight games alone, including four just six days prior in the win over the Patriots. But Miami managed just a pair of plays over 20 yards against the Bills, and they were separated by three quarters of play.

“I thought Leslie Frazier and the defensive staff put a good game plan together again,” said McDermott. “We got some key turnovers which were big for us in terms of taking the ball away and then the red zone stops were also key. I think that was a big part of the win for us.”

Miami was just one for three in the red zone. The only big plays were a 31-yard run by Kenyan Drake in the first quarter, which led to a field goal and a 36-yard pass play from Jay Cutler to Devante Parker on a drive that ended with a punt.

“We’ve got some great ball hawks on the back end and it allows guys to open up,” said Lorenzo Alexander. “When you know they’re going to pass the ball—when you let Jerry (Hughes) go, or Eddie (Yarbrough) or even (Cap) Capi, he had a big strip sack, we’ll give some guys some issues. I think that’s something that we’ve been missing. It was great to see it kind of come on. And then guys on the back end take advantage of when balls are thrown to them, picking them off, and breaking up some good passes, too.”

3 – Dolphins 3rd down ‘D’ defeated
Miami’s third down defense has been perhaps the most consistent facet of their team this season. They came into the game ranked third in the league. In fact, over the last two weeks, the Dolphins had held the Broncos and Patriots to a combined one for 24 on third down conversions.

Buffalo’s offense didn’t seem to care. The Bills converted five of their first seven third downs against the Dolphins defense for a 71 percent conversion rate. Those conversions proved instrumental on the Bills first three touchdown drives.

“I think it boiled down to matchups,” said Tyrod Taylor. “They’re still a very good team with a bunch of talented guys. We were able to go out there and execute and make some plays on third down. They still did a lot of the things that we saw on film. That’s their identity. We were just able to execute.”

The most important came on a 3rd-and-3 at the Dolphins 16-yard line with six minutes left in the first half. With LeSean McCoy in the slot on the right side of the formation was matched up with linebacker Stephone Anthony.

“It’s a check for us,” said Taylor. “Something we’ve had in the game plan for a couple of weeks now. We just haven’t had the opportunity to get the look. We were able to get the look we wanted. He was able to win his one-on-one matchup and make a play for us.”

“We didn’t think that we would get a linebacker to go out with me, so when we saw that it was a surprise,” said McCoy. “I looked at Tyrod like, ‘Hey, this is an early Christmas present.’ So I worked him and came outside, made the play.”

Buffalo finished the game seven for 15 on third downs for a 47 percent conversion rate, the highest allowed by the Dolphins in six weeks.