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Dolphins Digest Week 3: The Heat is On

Megan Briggs. Getty Images.

The stats will not tell you the story of this game. The Bills held the ball for more than 40 minutes; they had nearly 500 yards total offense and doubled up the Dolphins' first downs 31-15. However, the stat that mattered most was the final score as the Dolphins won 21-19, ending a seven-game losing streak against Buffalo. The Dolphins showed grit, guile, and heart as they outlasted the Bills on a steamy day in Miami. The heat played havoc on the game as both teams battled to keep players on the field, as key players on each side dealt with cramps. The Dolphins having the advantage of a sideline on the shade may have been the difference as the Bills wilted as real feel temperatures had reached 100 degrees. 

Both the Dolphins and Bills entered the game at 2-0, making this the first time in 29 years that the winner of a battle between Miami and Buffalo would be in sole possession of first place at the end of the game. The Dolphins came in after a historic comeback in Baltimore, while the Bills came in as the clear best team in the NFL, crushing the Rams and Titans in the first two games. The Bills grabbed control on the first series of the game, going 75 yards in ten plays, taking nearly six minutes to take a 7-0 lead, as Devin Singletary caught a two-yard pass from Josh Allen to open the scoring. The Dolphins could not do anything on their first possession, but Thomas Morstead had a strong punt that pinned the Bills at the 12. Three plays later, the Dolphins had the ball as Melvin Ingram recovered a fumble by Josh Allen, giving Miami the ball at the Buffalo six. The Dolphins would stick to the ground game, with Chase Edmunds crashing into the end zone to tie the game. 

The Bills continued to control the time of possession as Josh Allen engineered another long drive, taking more than six minutes as they went down the field 75 yards, in 14 plays, with Isaiah McKenzie catching an eight-yard touchdown pass that put the Bills back in front 14-7. The Dolphins could not make the tackles when needed as the Bills were repeatedly successful on third down and fourth down conversions, going 13 for 21. With their defense gassed, the Dolphins needed their own long drive to keep themselves in the game. The Dolphins responded with a five-minute drive, tying the game on an 11-yard pass from Tua Tagovailoa to River Cracraft. 


The Dolphins would force a punt late in the second quarter and had a chance to take the lead before halftime. However, Matt Milano delivered a late hit that knocked Tagovailoa out of the game. Teddy Bridgewater came in as the Dolphins' offense sputtered, giving Buffalo a chance to get the lead before halftime. Tua was clearly dazed as he walked to the locker room and went under concussion protocol. The Bills drove down to the Maimi 34 and, instead of clocking the ball to try a field goal, attempted a fake that was sniffed out, ending the first half with a 14-14 tie. Tua Tagovailoa returned to the game after halftime. The return was a surprise as he appeared to have suffered a concussion. After the game, the NFLPA announced there would be an investigation to see if all the safety protocols were followed to allow the Dolphins quarterback to return to the game. 

The Dolphins' first drive of the second half failed, but Thomas Morestead nailed a perfect punt that pinned Buffalo to their own two-yard line. The Bills would hold the ball for more than nine minutes, taking 20 plays to drive down to the Miami 11. However, the Dolphins' defense stiffened, forcing the Bills to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Tyler Bass. Trailing 17-14, the Dolphins went three and out as Matt Milano dropped a chance to have a pick-six that would have sealed the game. 

The Bills sensing the Dolphins' defense was on fumes, got their longest play of the game as Zack Moss had a 43-yard run down to the Miami 26. The break at the end of the third quarter gave the Dolphins a chance to catch their wind, as they forced Buffalo into another field goal try. This time Bass' 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left, keeping it a three-point game. 

With new life, the Dolphins' offense found its footing as Tua Tagovailoa completed a 32-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle. However, following a sack, Miami faced 3-and-22 on their 48-yard line when Tua found Waddle again, for 45 yards down to the Bills' seven. Following a penalty, the Dolphins punched the ball into the end zone on a three-yard run by Chase Edmunds to take the lead for the first time today. 

After taking the lead with 10:05 left, the Dolphins' defense again was bent backward, but it did not break, as the Bills had another long drive down to the goal-line. Instead of allowing the Bills to score and trying to answer, the Dolphins' defense had a classic goal-line stand, as Buffalo could not get into the end zone on four tries from the Miami one-yard line. The biggest play was a one-yard loss when Josh Allen tried a sneak on second down as Elandon Roberts, who was dealing with heat craps, teamed with Jerome Baker to keep Miami in front 21-17. 


The Dolphins had a 21-17 lead with 1:46 left as the Bills had two timeouts. Playing it safe, the Dolphins struggled to avoid being tackled in their own end zone for a safety, as they failed to run down the clock. Setting up for a punt, with no room Thomas Moorestead hit the ball off one of his blockers sending the ball backward and giving the Bills two points. 

After the free kick, the Bills only needed a field goal with 90 seconds left to win the game but had no timeouts. The Dolphins' defense played the final 90 seconds perfectly, allowing Buffalo only short passes while keeping the ball carrier in bounds. The Bills got down to the Miami 41 when David Quessenberry was called for holding with 22 seconds left. Josh Allen completed a 12-yard pass to McKenzie, but Emmanuel Ogbah made the tackle inbounds at the 41. The Bills scrambled but were unable to line up and spike the ball as time ran out, allowing the Dolphins to hold on for the win. 


The Dolphins do not have time to rest, as they will travel to Cincinnati for a Thursday night game against the Bengals. They will be dealing with questions over concussion protocol and Tua Tagovailoa as several players dealt with cramping and heat exhaustion in what might be the biggest win that the Dolphins have had in more than a decade.