While the Buffalo Bills put a cork in Miami's explosive offense Sunday afternoon, cornerback Tre'Davious White left the game in the third quarter with an Achilles injury and did not return. White tore his ACL in November, 2021 and has been a longtime staple of the Buffalo defense.
"They're obviously still evaluating," said Head Coach Sean McDermott. "He's been through a lot. Sometimes you wonder why things like that happen twice to someone. I'm not saying [an Achilles tear] is what it is. You watch him and how hard he's worked to get back. I know he's a man of faith and I know how strong he is."
"It breaks my heart, it really does," said quarterback Josh Allen. "Not sure of the extent of it, but you never want to see your teammates on the floor, pounding their fists. It just sucks."
Safety Micah Hyde said that White was a big part of the team and that today saw "the highest of highs and the lowest of lows."
One of the highs was Damar Hamlin's return to a regular season NFL game. Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest in January 2022 during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals and has now made an unprecedented comeback.
"Nine months ago, this young man's in the situation he was in and now he's back playing in training camp, preseason and now the regular season at an NFL level, just a surreal moment to watch," McDermott said.
Hyde, who spent last year recovering from his own injury, said that he was proud of Hamlin.
"Just to see what he went through and being there for each and every step to see D-Ham come back, put the pads on," Hyde said. "Mentally, I prepared myself to get back ready for this season, and that's not even close to what D-Ham went through. I'm extremely proud of him."
Hyde, McDermott and the rest of the Bills heard all week about the Miami Dolphins' 70-point performance against the Denver Broncos last Sunday. Tied for the third-most points in a game in league history, that game was reflective of who the Miami Dolphins could be as an offense this season.
With a quartet of speedy ball carriers, the Dolphins skill players claimed the top five fastest ball carrier speeds going into Sunday's game, according to Next Gen Stats. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ranked first in passing yards per attempt, passing touchdowns and passer rating on quick passes going into the game and had also only been sacked once in the entire season.
So how did the Bills hold the Dolphins to just 393 yards, three touchdowns and a combined 3-13 third and fourth down efficiency?
"At the end of the day, I think in the week, preparation is all about us. Going back to our fundamentals, going back to our preparation, executing our game and keeping it to who we are. And we saw that come to life today," said safety Taylor Rapp, who started in place of veteran safety Jordan Poyer, who was out with a knee injury.
After allowing touchdowns on the Dolphins' first two drives, which included six passes for 10 or more yards, the Bills defense clamped down, allowing just six more points over the course of the game. Nearly 40 percent of the Dolphins' offensive yards came in their first two drives of the game.
Rapp credited Head Coach Sean McDermott's scheme as a reason behind the Bills' ability to adapt to the Dolphins motion-heavy offense.
"Sean and his whole defense is just trying to get a feel of how they're attacking us, how they're coming out, all their different motions … out motion, jet motion, moving around," Rapp said. "So just getting a feel and settling in, we got into a good groove."
Rapp was signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. He won a Super Bowl with the team in 2021 and was ready to start according to McDermott.
"He's been a great addition," McDermott said. "Taylor is one of the first in and one of the last out, every day. Whether he starts or wasn't starting. So it didn't change this week as it relates to his role, his process is the same every week and that's part of why he had the success he did today."
A turning point in the game came early in the third quarter with the Bills up 34-20. Tagovailoa dropped back and released a high pass intended for receiver Robbie Chosen that sailed into the open arms of safety Micah Hyde for an interception, marking his second-straight week with a pick.
"We knew going into this game, ultimately we're a defense that tries to not give away big plays," Hyde said. "Everyone can say that around the league, but we've been successful doing that since 2017. So, we're going to stick to our DNA."
The Bills' DNA has led them to a 3-1 record as they prepare to travel to London to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.