In a crucial division matchup, lack of execution doomed the offense once again affecting the defensive unit down the stretch. While Miami churned out 250 rushing yards to Buffalo?s 46, the margin in time of possession ultimately hurt the Bills in a 38-10 loss at Land Shark Stadium Sunday.
As the game progressed, it was evident the defense fell victim to an attack that ran 46 times for 5.6 yards per carry. When the Bills found trouble moving the ball early, the defense slowly wore down physically letting the Dolphins rack up 37:09 minutes in time of possession. Converting just one third down all game, Buffalo?s defensive players had little time to catch their breath on the sidelines?especially when the Dolphins offense successfully produced long scoring drives.
Dick Jauron said the inability to capitalize on offense was a concern, especially late in the game. The Dolphins had the luxury of staying with the run already up three touchdowns?keeping the defense on the field over 70 snaps.
?There are lots of reasons, but they definitely got worn down. We got to stay on the field offensively and make plays, score points and give them a break here and there,? Jauron said.
Entering the game, it was clear the Bills had to slow down a Dolphins running attack ranked third in the league, averaging 161.3 yards per game. With second-year quarterback Chad Henne making his first NFL start, the Bills knew they would rely on the pair of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to ease pressure on the young signal caller.
Unfortunately for the Bills, they had enough trouble stopping the duo and couldn?t make things difficult for Henne. After showing they could establish the run, the Dolphins coaching staff had confidence in Henne to take a few shots downfield. Still their biggest offensive plays came on the ground with runs of 22, 28 and 38 yards helping to roll up 25 first downs (17 rushing) on 45 running plays.
?There were too many big run plays and we can?t let them out of the gates like we did,? said Ryan Denney. ?If they get three or four yards you can bounce back from that, but when they get those 30 and 40 yards runs that really adds up quickly and gives them the momentum that they want and definitely not the way to win a ball game allowing them to do that.?
A crucial point in the game for both teams came on the first possession of the third quarter. Already up 17-3 at halftime, the Dolphins had an opportunity to quickly increase their lead while the Bills could establish some momentum for the second half. Instead, Henne directed a 12-play, 85-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline. The defense immediately returned after the ensuing Bills possession as Will Allen intercepted a slant route over the middle intended for Terrell Owens.
?We had a couple chances to get off the field on third down and they converted,? Keith Ellison said. ?You?ve got to give them credit because they played extremely well today, but we need to get a lot better. On defense, all we need to worry about is keeping the other team out of the end zone.?
Trent Edwards said not sustaining drives resulted from an ineffective running game. Without establishing much production until late in the fourth quarter, the defense couldn?t pick up the slack.
?We left the defense out there on the field way too long, and when you got a run game that?s not running a lot of time off the clock they?re back on the field before you know it,? Edwards said. ?That run game is so critical with our up-tempo style of offense.?
Despite the issue of not putting points on the scoreboard, Chris Kelsay said the offense wasn?t alone in their struggles knowing the defensive unit had its share of breakdowns.
?We?ve been in situations like that many times before and we?re expected to play every circumstance,? Kelsay said. ?It?s disappointing to get off the field then get back on the field, but defensively we didn?t hold up our end of the deal this week. They capitalized on our mistakes.?