Bills Playoff hopes erased after loss against Dolphins

The Buffalo Bills fresh off a win over the winless Cleveland Browns squared off with the playoff hopeful Miami Dolphins on Christmas eve in Buffalo. The Bills came into the game third in the AFC East with a record of (7-7) trailing the Dolphins by two games that hold a record of (9-5). In their first matchup of the season in week three the Dolphins came out on top 28-25, though the Bills were without many key components including Marcel Dareus and LeSean McCoy. With the return of key players and a chance to keep their extremely slim playoff hopes alive, the Bills will look to once again go above .500 on the season. The Dolphins with a win can secure a playoff seed with a Denver Broncos loss.

The Bills came out of the gates with the look of a team that had already been eliminated from the playoffs with their lackluster defensive performance out of the gates. Jay Ajayi in this one seemingly picked up where he left off last time he went up against the Bills running at will. A first quarter touchdown by Ajayi saw the Dolphins go up early 7-0 over the Bills. This was only the begining of his big day as he would go on to run for over 200-yards on the ground in this one, his third time passing the 200-yard mark for a game this season.

“I just feel like we came up today, I feel like a lot of times, too, we could have been running the ball a lot better, so today, this whole week of practice we put a premium on coming off the ball fast and running harder, just finishing blocks, and that was the sum of it today and we were able to get over 200,” explained Jay Ajayi.

Ajayi’s touchdown run in the first was not the only notable run of the game for Miami as Kenyan Drake added on to the Dolphins lead with a run of 45-yards. For a Rex Ryan defense that makes stopping the run and emphasis, the defense was truly a let down in this one. Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan stated, “I’ ve been pretty decent throughout my career. Obviously this was a rough night, there’ s no question. We’ ve had some tough ones but I think the league is—I think offenses are pretty decent these days. They’ re able to move the football but again, I’ ll let my reputation stand for what it is and you can challenge it all you want.”

Where the defense was lacking the Bills offense more than made up for it in this one. The Bills were able to put points up on the board in the middle of the second quarter. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was able to connect with deep threat receiver Sammy Watkins for a 38-yard touchdown grab. This was the begining of what would be a big day for Taylor who has seen his play come into question. Taylor would finish this game with 329-yards passing to go along with three touchdown as well as adding 60-yards on the ground for a big day.”He played with no fear, no conscious. And he’s just throwing the ball. And that’s how we’ve got to play. If it’s a tight ball, 50-50, let’s break the ball up and let’s go to the next play, Sammy Watkins stated.” “I think he and I and everybody else, the line, the running backs play collectively. Tight ends, everybody. The score would cut the Dolphins halftime lead to 14-7.”

The second half saw the offense for each side take even bigger strides. The big plays continued as DeVante Parker hauled in a 56-yard pass from quarterback Matt Moore. Moore would finish the game with over 230-yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception on the day. The back and forth scoring would continue as LeSean McCoy and the Bills would answer back to keep it a one score game with a scoring drive of their own. McCoy would punch it in for the Bills on a 19-yard run, the score was his 12th of the season. Moore would follow the Bills score with his second touchdown of the day. A 6-yard pass to Kenny Stills would cap off the 75-yard drive for the Dolphins.

Coming off a two-game scoring streak, Charles Clay of the Bills kept the streak alive with his play in the second half. Clay would connect with Taylor for two big touchdowns in the second half. A field goal added on by Dan Carpenter in addition to the Clay touchdowns would see the Bills take control of the game late. A field goal by Andrew Franks with six seconds remaining in the game would tie it up and send it to overtime.

Missed opportunities would be exposed by the Bills in overtime. In their opening drive of overtime, Dan Carpenter missed a field goal that would have put the Bills up and ultimately given them the win with a defensive stop. A controversial punt on fourth down in their following possession for the Bills would ultimately hand the Dolphins the victory and end the Bills playoff hopes. A Franks 27-yard field goal would be the deciding factor for the Dolphins in this one.

“Our guys fought their butts off and at the end of the day it wasn’ t enough. I tip my hat to our guys. Even down 14 we kept battling back and Miami’ s a good football team, they deserved the game and they won it,” mentioned Rex Ryan.

Following the loss, the Bills fall to 7-8 on the season and are officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Dolphins improve to 10-5 and are primed for a playoff run.

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