MIA-BUF grades: Bills D can’t answer Ajayi in OT loss

The Miami running back notched his third 200-yard rushing game of the season as the Dolphins registered an OT victory.

| 4 months ago
(Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

(Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

MIA-BUF grades: Bills D can’t answer Ajayi in OT loss


Miami Dolphins 34, Buffalo Bills 31

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Miami’s 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins

Quarterback grade: Matt Moore, 43.0

Matt Moore’s backup status showed through

Matt Moore has made a very lucrative career for himself out of being one of the league’s best backup QBs, but the issue with that is a long period of time can pass between being called upon to prove that reputation is still deserved. In this game, Moore did not look good, though he did have a nice drive late in regulation to put the Dolphins in a position to tie the game. He threw for a couple of scores, but 167 of his 233 yards came after the catch on plays that required poor tackling to happen, rather than excellent ball placement to open up yards after the catch. Moore needed the play of his running backs to rescue the game.

Top offensive grades:

RB Jay Ajayi, 85.4
WR DeVante Parker, 77.4
T Branden Albert, 77.1
WR Kenny Stills, 75.5
C Kraig Urbik, 75.4

Running backs rescue the game

The workhorse for Miami in this game was RB Jay Ajayi, though he was ably assisted by rookie Kenyan Drake, who chipped in himself with an excellent score as he reversed field and took the ball up the sideline for six. Ajayi was the player that rescued what looked to be fast approaching an inevitable tie, with a big run in overtime and then more than one additional powerful carries to take the Dolphins down inside the Buffalo 10-yard line before the finally attempted the winning field goal. Ajayi topped 200 yards on the ground for the third time this season, with 132 of them coming after contact as the Dolphins as a team rushed for 262 yards and earned a win that keeps their playoff destiny in their own hands.

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Top defensive grades:

CB Tony Lippett, 82.4
LB Kiko Alonso, 81.2
DT Ndamukong Suh, 80.4
LB Spencer Paysinger, 75.5
CB Bobby McCain, 74.6

Defensive lapses bailed out by Buffalo execution

This was far from a strong performance by the Miami defense, and they rode their luck with more than one key miss from Bills kicker Dan Carpenter proving to be the difference in this game. Ndamukong Suh was strong in the run game, but as a unit they could do little to slow down Tyrod Taylor through the air or the Buffalo running backs on the ground, though they did choose overtime to come up with some of their biggest stops and partially redeem an ugly overall display.

Buffalo Bills

Quarterback grade: Tyrod Taylor, 92.2

Tyrod Taylor undone by his defense

Tyrod Taylor found himself in a shootout in this game and while his performance was more than good enough to deserve a win, his defense kept letting him down and he couldn’t summon magic at the most crucial times in over time. Taylor completed 78.6 percent of his passes when kept clean in the pocket including a picture perfect deep pass to Sammy Watkins for a touchdown. Taylor in fact was four from eight attempts for 145 yards and that score just on deep passes right outside of the numbers in this game. Ultimately, he came up short when put under pressure and that was key late in the game.

Top offensive grades:

QB Tyrod Taylor, 92.2
T Cyrus Kouandjio, 86.9
WR Sammy Watkins, 82.7
TE Charles Clay, 81.7
G John Miller, 79.8

Offense orchestrates a comeback but let down by other units

Buffalo’s offense deserved to win this game, with big plays coming from all over the unit. Kicker Dan Carpenter and the defense letting up big plays ultimately undid them and led to the loss, but it’s worth noting that they also came up short at crucial times in over time when just one more key play would have been the difference. Tyrod Taylor was excellent, but there was strong play from Sammy Watkins, RBs LeSean McCoy and Mike Gillislee and several members of the offensive line too.

Top defensive grades:

LB Ramon Humber, 79.7
CB Ronald Darby, 78.6
DI Leger Douzable, 78.0
DI Adolphus Washington, 75.1
CB Corey White, 74.3

The grades say it all

Any time your best performing player notches a PFF grade under 80, you can tell it was a pretty bad day at the office for the unit. If it needed to be any clearer, Miami putting up 34 points and marching down the field in the final minutes of overtime to snatch a win will help. Moore did little against the Bills in the air, but they just couldn’t stop the Miami receivers once they had caught the football, missing 12 tackles as a unit and 167 yards after the catch. This unit has been gashed on the ground in recent weeks and again the run fits were absent as Jay Ajayi went for big yardage, while Kenyan Drake added another 56 yards and a touchdown in just four carries.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, 85.4

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

 

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

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