Bills can’t overcome injury bug, drop heartbreaker to Dolphins, 21-19


The Buffalo Bills lost their Week 3 matchup in frustrating and devastating fashion, falling short against the Miami Dolphins 21-19. The Bills had chances to win this game and found different ways to lose. The Dolphins certainly deserve some credit for the win, but the Bills, in many different ways, were the ones who found a way to lose the game. 

As usual, we’ll look at something inspiring, something that needs some more questions, a player that required a (slightly) better performance, and the most irksome aspect of the game. 

Inspire – The running backs (but not as runners)

Despite a litany of issues on the Bills’ offense, all three RBs put in solid performances. Singletary ran hard, though couldn’t get much push with an injury-riddled OL, though he was very consistent as a pass catcher, catching nine passes for 78 yards. James Cook managed to find a good rhythm in his pass-catching role as well, catching four passes for 37 yards, and Zack Moss had several strong plays, including a career-long 43-yard run, and a critical third down conversion where he managed to slip underneath an incoming defender. An encouraging step forward for a position group that has been lacking in the last few years.

Perhaps this is a weak silver lining, but the fact is that the Bills needed their RBs to step up as pass catchers when they weren’t going to run the ball, and they did exactly that. It’s a clear step forward from where they’ve been in the first two weeks of the season, and hopefully, that trend continues.

Inquire – What do you do with these injuries?

It’s hard to even figure out where to begin with regard to injuries. The Bills were already heavily depleted in the secondary and along the interior defensive line due to injuries. The injuries continued as Christian Benford was sidelined due to an injury, and Spencer Brown, Ryan Bates, and Greg Van Roten all suffered injuries throughout the game, but the biggest injury for the offensive line happened before the game when Mitch Morse was ruled out. His presence was deeply missed as Van Roten’s snaps were inconsistent, one of which lead to a botched spike at the end of the first half, causing Allen to panic and throw hot to Diggs and allowing time to expire. The Bills, as a result, did not have the opportunity to kick a makeable field goal.

Then moving to the defensive side, where the Bills actually seemed to handle their injury plague fairly well. Even after Benford went out, the Dolphins really could not do anything for most of the game. While they were eventually able to take the lead, it was more the issue of the interior defensive line struggling (as they did last week against the Titans) rather than the secondary having to replace all but one of their starters. Regardless, the Bills’ injury list coming into this game was long, and it grew exponentially seemingly with every passing minute. They are going to have a tough hill to climb to overcome these injuries.

Require – Josh Allen

Josh Allen gave a strong performance. He also had opportunities to win this game, and didn’t.

More than that, he let the Dolphins, particularly Christian Wilkins, get into his head, ripping off Wilkins’ helmet and incurring a 15-yard personal foul in the fourth quarter.  Allen is a phenomenal QB who, in spite of injuries on the OL and skill players coming in and out of the lineup from injuries and cramps, still gave a great performance, especially considering how many curveballs were being thrown his way along with an extremely physical Dolphins defense. He finished the game with 400 yards passing, completing 42 of 63(!) pass attempts, including 11 different players being targeted and recording receptions. That all said, the simple fact of the matter is that Allen needed to be the best player on the field in key moments, and in the most critical of those moments – most notably, on fourth and goal in the game’s dying moments – he couldn’t put it all together. It might be unfair to put him in this category, but if you want to be the best, if you want to be the MVP, and leave no doubt about it, those are the moments you have to capitalize on. 

Is it a concern moving forward? Not really. But short yardage and one-score games continue to elude this particular team in the last two years. Some of that is not on Allen, that much is obvious. Some of it is though, and today Allen needs to shoulder at least some of the blame, along with being praised for his high-level performance.

Irk – Not winning

It’s pretty simple, but the Bills had more than one chance to win this game and simply found different ways to lose it. This alone is not worth hitting the panic button over, but when a tough game is in your grasp, especially a divisional game, you have to find a way to win that game. An ugly win is always better than an ugly loss, and this loss is going to be a tough one for the Bills to swallow. 

The Bills’ next game will be against the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are another AFC contender that is dealing with an injury bug, and coming off a tough win against the Patriots on the road, they’re going to look at a depleted Bills team and try to take advantage. The Bills should also be looking at a depleted Ravens team and thinking the same thing. Next week’s bout will be a true test of wills, coaching, and endurance.