Bills threw me some curve balls

October 24, 2016
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That didn't go as planned.  The Bills lost to Miami on Sunday because the Dolphins did three things I didn't think they'd be able to do.

1) Jay Ajayi ran through, around and over the Bills defense.  There was no way Ajayi was going to get 204 yards rushing against the Bills like he did against Pittsburgh, right?  Well, he didn't.  Ajayi ran for 214 yards and it included nine runs of 10 yards or more. He was unstoppable.  Give Ajayi credit because he did a great job of being patient on the stretch runs and waiting for a hole to cut upfield through or to cut back into for big yards. 

2) Ryan Tannehill made a big play.  I'm not a fan of Tannehill who, in his fifth year as a starter, looks like nothing more than an average quarterback.  When push comes to shove and Miami needs him to make a big play, Tannehill comes up short more often than not.  But with his team trailing 17-14 in the fourth quarter and facing a third and seven at the Bills 46 yard line, Tannehill made a perfect throw on the run that turned into an 18 yard pickup for Jarvis Landry.  Miami would finish that drive with a touchdown that put them ahead to stay.

3) Miami's defense manhandled the Bills offensive line.  That group has been a strength in the Bills 4-2 start but they had their worst game of the season, unable to open holes for the running game albeit with a less than 100% LeSean McCoy.  The pass protection was shoddy as well.  Tyrod Taylor was under pressure enough that he looked skittish in the second half.  John Miller and Jordan Mills versus Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake a mismatch.

The coaching staff had its bad moments too.  Clearly, you could see McCoy wasn't himself and yet the Bills had Mike Gillislee run the ball just one time in the entire first half.  He had just one carry in the third quarter and produced a 20 yard run on the final play of that quarter.

Even with a limited McCoy I expected the Bills to lean heavily on the run game, especially with Robert Woods joining Sammy Watkins on the sideline.  Bills running backs combined for just 15 carries out of the 54 offensive plays the Bills had.

When Taylor hit Marquise Goodwin for the 67 yard touchdown pass that put the Bills up by 11, I thought for sure Buffalo was headed to a 5th straight victory.  Miami responded with a touchdown drive of their own and that positive feeling I had went right out the window. 

With a lead in the fourth quarter, the Bills love to pound away with the run game and put the game away.  But the run game wasn't working, the pass game was hampered by injuries and a quarterback who is a "manage the game" guy rather than a "win the game" guy, and the defense couldn't get off the field. 

The biggest problem with this loss is that it made me immediately think the Bills will be 4-5 after the next two games.  I didn't think this was a lock it in win like San Francisco the week before but its a game I thought the Bills should be able to get and was one of those wins in the "how do I get them to 10 victories" discussion.

The good news is Seattle hasn't looked that impressive this season and Cincinnati is worse than people anticipated so perhaps the Bills will be able to make up for it down the road.