Arrow Up/Arrow Down: Bills at Dolphins

The Bills move to 2-0, but not without drama in Miami

The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins, 31-28 on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida. They're 2-0 to start the 2020 season.

Let's get to the Arrows:


Josh Allen

Allen was terrific in the first half, throwing for 249 yards, the most yards in the first half for a Bills quarterback since Doug Flutie had that same number back in 2000. Then in the second half, when the chips were down and his team needed him most, the Bills’ third-year quarterback was at his best. Allen finished the game 24-for-35 (68%) for 417 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, but it was his fourth quarter that now have Bills fans believing their team has finally found their franchise quarterback. With the Bills trailing 20-17 and only 10 minutes left in the contest, Allen took over. From that point on, he went 6-of-8 for 145 yards and two touchdowns and averaged over 18 yards per-attempt. That’s what franchise quarterbacks do.

Stefon Diggs

If anyone had any reservations about what the Bills gave up to acquire Diggs in the offseason, they shouldn’t anymore. Through two weeks, the wideout has 16 catches for 239 yards and a touchdown, scoring his first in a Bills uniform this Sunday, while hauling in eight balls for 153 yards.

John Brown

When does Brown not make this list? It seems like he has almost the same impressive stat line every week. In this one, he caught four passes for 82 yards and a touchdown for an average of 20.5 yards per-catch. Mr. Consistent.

Brian Daboll’s aggressiveness

The Bills offensive coordinator came out in attack mode, letting Allen do his work. But when things got dicey and they were trailing late, he never wavered. It would have been easy to just play for a field goal to tie it, as we’ve seen many Bills teams do in the past, and especially to try to keep a gassed defense off the field, but Daboll kept his foot on the pedal and took deep shots, paying off immediately and securing the win.

Big plays

Feeding off the top two Arrows Up, the Bills had a lot of big plays in this one, including three of them that covered 46 yards or more.

Pass protection

Part of the reason Allen was able to be so successful was how much time he had to throw the football. He was sacked only one time and had plenty of time to look around and find an open target on important throws down the field.

Tyler Bass

The rookie bounced back from last week’s performance in a big way. He nailed all four of his extra point attempts and his lone field goal shot, which as it turned out, would be very important in a three-point win. He also forced a touchback on all six of his kickoffs.

Running back efficiency

The yardage totals weren’t eye-popping, but Devin Singletary and Zack Moss were very efficient, carrying the ball 18 times for 92 yards, averaging 5.17 yards per-carry. After all the talk last week about how much Allen ran, he only took off four times Sunday, and all were on scrambles. The Bills' running game were the backs, and that’s what they needed from them.

Red zone efficiency

After going 3-for-8 last week in the Jets’ red zone, including two lost fumbles, the Bills converted their only two trips there into touchdowns on Sunday.

Goal line stand

With the Bills leading 17-13 in the third quarter, the Dolphins drove all the way down the field and had a first-and-goal at the Bills’ one-yard line. The defense was getting gashed, but then they stood up and kept them out. Tow runs for no gain, followed by two incompletions and the Bills kept the lead and took over.

Tyrel Dodson

Dodson made his first NFL start on Sunday, filling in for the injured Tremaine Edmunds at middle linebacker. He wasn’t perfect, and there were times he was challenged, but Dodson had a good day overall. He was responsible for making the defensive calls, and except for one play where the secondary was confused, they never lined up late or looked out of place. He also finished the game with an impressive stat line: seven total tackles, one for a loss, and two passes defensed.

Jordan Poyer

Poyer filled up the stat sheet as he often does, registering eight total tackles, one for a loss, one sack, and two quarterback hurries. His sack came in a huge moment, with the Bills up four points and less than six minutes left in the game.

Ferguson brothers

Bills long snapper Reid Ferguson and his brother, Dolphins long snapper Blake Ferguson, matched up against each other for the first time ever in the NFL.  It was a cool story, made even better by the fact that neither was heard from all day, meaning they both were perfect.  Their parents, Kevin and Tracy, attended the game and split their allegiance.


Direct snap to Gabriel Davis

In the first quarter, the Bills had driven down to the Miami six-yard line, and on 2nd-and-2, Daboll put rookie wide receiver Gabriel Davis in shotgun with Allen split wide. Davis took the direct snap and didn’t gain a yard. There was no need to get cute and force a third down after already driving 91 yards down the field. Thankfully for the Bills, they scored a touchdown on the next play.

Dawson Knox

Just after the Dolphins had tied the game at 7-7, Allen hit Knox for a huge gain for 38 yards, but Knox fumbled the ball, giving it right back to Miami at their own 37-yard line. Then Knox, who had far too many dropped passes last year, had another in this one. Even though the defensive back got his hands on the ball, it was after it was already in Knox’s grasp, but he couldn’t hold on.

Levi Wallace

When the Dolphins visited Buffalo last year, Ryan Fitzpatrick made it a point to target cornerback Levi Wallace and had success. He did the same thing on Sunday and with the same result. Wallace was picked on over-and-over, to the point where it was apparent the Dolphins were designing plays and getting personnel matchups to specifically go right at him. Wallace led the team with 10 total tackles, but many of those came after giving up a pass and then having tackle the player who caught it on him.

Third quarter/post-lightning delay

The Bills seemed in firm control of the game at halftime, leading 17-10 and outgaining Miami 342 to 187 yards. Then came the third quarter and a long lightning delay, and the Bills were flat. They couldn’t regain that same energy or production. In the third quarter, Miami outgained Buffalo 132 to 28 yards. The Bills ran eight total plays. Over the first two weeks of the season, the Bills have been outgained 224 to 107 yards and outscored 10-0. That’s something they’ll need to figure out.

Defense on Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki

I’ve already written about Levi Wallace and he was definitely responsible for several Gesicki plays. Obviously not having linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds were a big factor, but the Dolphins tight end torched the Bills with eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. They just couldn’t match up with him. With that said, Gesicki has sensational hands and caught several very tough balls.


Instead of adding The Big Picture to this game's column, I have a separate column focused mostly on Josh Allen.

Follow me on Twitter: @SalSports

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