1. Tre'Davious White provides spark the team needed
On a day when Buffalo's defense was having troubles getting stops against the streaky Ryan Fitzpatrick, their performance was saved by Tre'Davious White.
"He played a heck of a game. Absolutely a heck of a game," said head coach Sean McDermott. "It looked like he covered well for the most part. He took the ball away in the red zone down there. Then he got the takeaway on the punch out as well. Big time energy boost to us. He played at a high level."
Miami QB Ryan Fitzpatrick made a point of not throwing in Tre' White's direction for most of the game, and the Dolphins passing game was effective in moving the chains. But with the game on the line, Fitzpatrick chose to test White with a pass intended for Isaiah Ford at the goal line late in the third quarter.
White slipped underneath the route and made a diving interception at the two-yard line to ensure that the Dolphins would not widen their five-point lead, up 14-9.
"As a defensive back you can't let the game get away from you," said White of not seeing the ball much. "When stuff like that is going on you just try to run to the ball each play and celebrate with your teammates when they're making plays to stay engaged in the game. Because you never know when the ball is going to come and when the ball does come you have to capitalize."
"That's just shows the type of player he is," said Tremaine Edmunds of White. "He's keying in and always playing hard and technique sound so when the ball comes his way he's ready to make a play on it. That was a big-time play for our team, a big-time play for our defense. That was the swing of the ball game right there. We got the momentum and the offense took off with it too."
After the interception, Buffalo's offense drove the length of the field to score eight points off the turnover and take the lead 17-14.
With the game still in the balance, White would make another game-changing play. In coverage against Preston Williams, White punched a reception out of Williams' grasp and the loose ball was recovered by Jerry Hughes and returned to the Miami 16-yard line.
"That's just something that we practice pretty much every day and I displayed it on the field," said White of his forced fumble technique.
Again the Bills offense converted a White turnover into a touchdown for a total of 15 points off of the cornerback's takeaways.
"If we take the ball away and they capitalize on it then we're usually in for a good day," said White.
Sunday's effort by White, marked the second game this season in which he posted a pair of takeaways.
2. Bills exploit John Brown matchup
The Dolphins were without their top cornerback Xavien Howard on Sunday due to a knee injury. His backup Ken Webster was injured in the first half, and though he did return to the game, Miami's defensive coaches were using a rotation of six inexperienced defensive backs at both corner and safety.
A matchup that unfolded late in the first half was former Bills practice squad CB Ryan Lewis and WR John Brown.
Buffalo was not able to exploit the matchup in the first half very much, but the overhead camera shots of the action likely showed Bills coaches at halftime that Brown was winning consistently against Lewis in man coverage.
"Going into a game when an opponent is down a lot of players with injury you want try to take advantage of the weak links on their team," said Brown.
The right opportunity revealed itself on a 1st-and-10 from the Dolphins 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
"I've got a lot of trust in John and what he does just because of how hard he works," said Josh Allen. "The results he has in the game, he's a guy who is going to work and get open for you. I'm proud of the way he played, that he had trust in me to continue to run his routes and that I would find him."
Down 14-9, Josh Allen saw man coverage from Lewis on Brown. Lewis pressed Brown and didn't get a good jam as he gave Brown his inside shoulder. Allen saw Brown win and delivered a strike for a 20-yard touchdown to give the Bills their first lead in the second half, before converting a two-point conversion himself for a 17-14 lead with 13:50 to play.
"It was a good ball by Josh and good protection," said McDermott. "John had been winning. John works at it during the week and prepares himself, so it was good to see us get him the ball in that situation."
3. Josh Allen raises bar in second half
It wasn't a good first half for Buffalo's offense. They couldn't convert on third down or in the red zone and it had them down five points at halftime.
The Bills were 1-6 on third down conversions at the break and 0-1 in the red zone.
Come the second half however, Josh Allen again demonstrated improved consistency when the game was on the line.
"We knew at halftime we were hurting ourselves in the first half. Getting three field goals isn't what we wanted to do down there. We wanted to finish with touchdowns," said Allen. "Our O-line stepped up. We challenged them and they answered the bell, so I appreciated what they did for us. Frank (Gore) and Motor (Singletary) they carried the rock well. We made some plays outside too. We made enough plays to win."
Following Tre'Davious White's first takeaway, Allen led a 12-play 98-yard scoring drive going 6-6 passing for 73 yards including the 20-yard touchdown pass to John Brown.
On their next two possessions, which included the opportunity from the second White takeaway, Allen went 4-5 passing for 39 yards with the last completion coming on a three-yard TD strike to a wide-open Cole Beasley.
"In the second half, our defense came out and played lights out and we found a rhythm on offense and that's all that mattered," Allen said.
On the final three possessions of the game for the Bills, Allen went 10-11 passing for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Prior to that in the game, he was 6-15 passing for 90 yards."He's done well in those situations," McDermott said. "He's a young guy, so he'll learn from this tape. You always want to build on the positives and celebrate those and make sure we're learning from the things that weren't up to par. The biggest thing was we got the takeaway, but what do you do with it, especially the short field and we capitalized on it."