ReFo: Dolphins @ Bills, Week 2
Both the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills were coming off upset wins in Week 1 as they headed into this divisional matchup. The Bills jumped out to a 9-0 halftime lead, but it seemed more lopsided than the score reflected. Miami picked up three first downs on their first five possessions to start the game, all of which ended with punts.
The Dolphins were able to put a decent drive together to start the third quarter and connected on a field goal. However, C.J. Spiller took the ensuing kickoff return 102 yards for a touchdown to swing the momentum back in the home team’s favor. Each team scored a touchdown on their next offensive possession before Buffalo’s defense shut down the Dolphins’ offense until there was too little time to mount a comeback.
The Bills scored 29 points, but the Miami defense played much better than the score reflects. Buffalo won the field position battle for most of the game, starting in Miami territory on five separate occasions. So, although the Bills sustained only two drives over 40 yards, they were able to do enough to setup Dan Carpenter for six field goals under 40 yards, only one of which was off-target.
With that, let’s take a look at some notable individual performances from the Bills’ 29-10 win over the Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins — Performances of Note
Ryan Tannehill, QB: +1.0
Breakdown: Tannehill had some off-target passes during the game, but his performance was generally positive. He completed seven of eight passes when under pressure, including his lone touchdown on a fade route to Mike Wallace. His receivers let him down at times with five dropped passes, including a perfectly thrown deep ball to Brian Hartline inside the 10-yard line with less than two minutes to play that could have helped stage a comeback. However, the incomplete passes seemed to always come at the wrong time as the Dolphins struggled to sustain drives for much of the game.
Signature Stats: Tannehill had an overall Accuracy Percentage of 78.3%, and was accurate on 100% of his passes when under pressure.
Top Five Defensive Linemen: Combined +11.1 Overall
Breakdown: The defensive line was not anywhere near as impactful in pass rush as they were last week against the Patriots. However, they were stout against the run, led by Earl Mitchell (+3.2 run defense) and Randy Starks (+2.7). When they were not getting run stops themselves, they were getting enough penetration to free up the linebackers to make their own plays.
Signature Stats: All nine of their combined tackles were run stops. Mitchell posted the highest Run Stop Percentage among them at 16.7%.
Brandon Fields, P: -2.3
Breakdown: Disregarding the punt of Fields that was blocked as it wasn’t his fault, his performance was still underwhelming at best. He specifically struggled getting distance on his kicks when deep in Miami’s territory, which helped contribute towards Buffalo’s advantage in field position.
Signature Stat: Fields had punts of 29 and 33 yards en route to a 39.8 yard average.
Buffalo Bills — Performances of Note
Sammy Watkins, WR: +3.1
Breakdown: Watkins was obviously bothered by his rib injury still, but that didn’t stop him from scoring his first career touchdown and showing off the explosiveness that made him a Top-5 draft pick. He narrowly missed out on a touchdown early in the game as Brent Grimes made an impressive play to pull Watkins’ hands apart after Watkins had beat him initially. However, Watkins was just getting started as he caught eight passes on the day and picked up 48 yards after the catch.
Signature Stat: Watkins gained 117 yards on just 24 routes, good for a 4.88 Yards Per Route Run.
Chris Williams, LG and Eric Wood, C: Combined -7.3
Breakdown: Williams and Wood were two of the biggest reasons for the Bills’ struggles on the ground. On numerous occasions they were overpowered and allowed penetration into the backfield. Outside of a 47-yard run by Spiller, the offense averaged just 2 yards per carry. Williams also allowed a hit and a hurry in pass protection.
Signature Stat: The Bills gained just three rushing yards before contact on 15 carries running through the three gaps adjacent to Williams and Wood.
E.J. Manuel, QB: +0.1
Breakdown: While it probably wouldn’t be considered an impressive day by Manuel, he has shown improvement over his rookie year. Most of Manuel’s throws were targeted under 10 yards downfield, where he completed 13 of his 17 attempts for 122 yards and a touchdown. However, he was most impressive on the few shots he did take downfield. Manuel was accurate on all three of his passes targeted 20-plus yards downfield, earning a +2.5 passing grade on those throws. The Bills also utilized play action well, where Manuel completed all seven PA attempts for a solid 92 yards.
Signature Stat: Manuel had a QB Rating of 137.3 when targeting Watkins.
PFF Game Ball
The game ball goes to Sammy Watkins, who was the difference maker for the Bills’ offense and has already established himself as the No. 1 option for E.J. Manuel.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @PFF_MattC