The Buffalo Bills lost their first game of the season Sunday, as they fell to the Miami Dolphins 21-19.
There are a number of directions where I can start this, but I think this is the best way to sum up what happened Sunday…
For the most part, I think everyone interpreted my tweet correctly. Some Bills fans replied by saying it’s a “losing mentality” while Dolphins fans were ALL OVER ME in the replies saying I was making “excuses”. These aren’t excuses; these are facts from the game.
The point I was trying to make was that, despite facing many obstacles Sunday, the Bills still almost won as they took the game down to literally the final second. Buffalo was missing 45% of their defensive starters and still held the Dolphins’ high-powered offense in check. Miami beat Buffalo’s depleted roster by just two points; they could only muster up 21 points on 212 total yards. To me, this game didn’t move the needle for either team. The AFC East is still Buffalo’s to lose.
With that said, the Buffalo Bills have to start winning these close games. Again, you can’t use injuries or the weather as an excuse. They were definitely factors, but ultimately, you have to be able to win, no matter who is on the field. The Bills left a ton of plays out there that they would love to have back; they failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities that could’ve changed the outcome of the game.
Dating back to last year, the Bills are now 0-7 in one-score games. But, oddly enough, each of their last 20 wins have been by 10 points or more. So it’s either winning in dominant fashion or losing a tight contest — there’s no in between. Moving forward, the Super Bowl favorites have to be able to close out the tight games. Whether it’s red zone efficiency, getting the run game going, or game management/play-calling in late-game situations, the Bills have to figure out a way to get the job done.
What Was Said
Following the game, Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that he was proud of his team for the way they fought and battled all day.
“Just real proud of the guys… I know we didn’t get the result that we all came down here for, [but] I think we learned a lot about our team today…”Sean McDermott on his team’s performance
Though the Buffalo Bills had to fight many obstacles, they were still just 2-4 in the red zone. They turned the ball over once, while having multiple poor snaps. They dropped a pick-six, missed a field goal, and missed out on two other field goal opportunities at the end of both halves. McDermott said that it comes down to being able to execute those plays when they present themselves.
“I just think execution overall… Just things we can learn and grow from.”Sean McDermott on his team’s execution
At his Monday afternoon press conference, he expanded on that thought.
“When you gain close to 500 yards and hold them to… around 220, you should win those games… But it speaks to the little things. We talk about it a lot – taking care of the football, taking away the football. We had opportunities to kick field goals. Two of those opportunities, we didn’t get it done, for different reasons.”McDermott’s elaboration from Monday
QB Josh Allen shared similar sentiments following the game.
“We gotta finish drives… I think third down, we were alright, [in the] red zone we weren’t very good. We gotta find a way to get it into the end zone there.”Josh Allen on finishing drives
Allen acknowledged the tough conditions, but knows that it’s no excuse, especially when considering the offense ran 90 plays in 40 minutes, which likely wore them out towards the end of the game.
“Yeah it was warm, breathing was tough at times… We had some really, really long drives. We had a 20-play drive that ended in a field goal and we have to find a way to put it in the end zone and cap that one off.”Allen on long drives
Buffalo’s quarterback went on to say that the Dolphins, who were 1-7 versus the Bills since 2018 while getting outscored 275-144, had a great game plan and executed it very well. However, he knows that the game was there for the Bills.
“We really beat ourselves tonight… Credit to them, they had a really good game plan. They came out and did what they had to do, but there’s obviously plays that we want back and that’s going to happen over the course of every single game. This one especially.”Allen on Miami’s defense
One of those plays was on 4th down late in the fourth quarter, when Allen failed to complete a pass to WR Isaiah McKenzie for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. Bills OC Ken Dorsey said at his Monday afternoon press conference that the ball popped out of Allen’s hands too early and that, in those moments, he has to make sure that his feet are set and in the right position, so that he’s ready to make the throw.
“I think it was just one of those things where it happened so fast on him that he tried to get it out there to him [McKenzie] quick and the ball kind of just went down on him.”Dorsey on the late missed TD opportunity
Following that play, the Bills defense came up big, causing a three-and-out and a safety after the “butt punt.” However, after getting the ball back with just under a minute and a half remaining and after a crucial holding penalty on RT David Quessenberry on the Miami 43-yard line, Allen completed a 12-yard pass to WR Isaiah McKenzie, only to see the clock hit triple zeros before they could spike the ball.
McKenzie, who said he had to receive IVs during halftime due to the heat, did his best to try to get in field goal range while also trying to save enough time to clock it. But, ultimately, there wasn’t enough time left as the Bills had no timeouts to use after McKenzie got tackled on the 42-yard line.
“I knew T Bass’ range, so I was trying to get out of bounds while also trying to get upfield. There were nine seconds left, so I was trying to get to the hash, and I kind of got bumped and threw the ball to the ref, and it just went down from there.”Isaiah McKenzie on the final play
As the Buffalo Bills ran out of time, we saw a quick shot of Ken Dorsey going absolutely nuts in the press box, in what has now become a viral video.
Dorsey was asked right away on Monday about the incident, and he said that he will use this as a learning experience.
“Obviously, that’s something that I’m going to learn from. I don’t ever want to take the passion out of the game – we’re all in this to win football games… for the Bills, for our fans, and we’re going to give them everything we got. But it’s something I’m going to learn from and make sure that’s corrected moving forward.”Ken Dorsey on his end of game meltdown
McDermott was also asked about his thoughts on the video and he said that, while he loves the passion from his offensive coordinator, he also has to compose himself in those situations.
“I’m fully aware of that video and Ken and I talked about it… I think it’s something that (A) we gotta keep our poise and he’s well aware of that and knows that, and (B) I love the fact that he cares that much about doing his job and putting his players in the position to be successful. I think that says a lot about him as a coach… how hard he works at it and how important that is to him. But again, that said, it’s important that we, as leaders, keep our poise and we motto that to our players.”Sean McDermott on Dorsey’s Meltdown
Though it was a stinging defeat, the players were mostly upbeat following the game.
“I’m extremely proud of my guys. I’m not going to make any excuses, but to fight the way we fought and to have the injuries that we had… and to see how we handled adversity, I’m extremely proud of my guys.”Von Miller on the defeat
Miller said that a loss like this can be good for a team, especially one with high expectations like the Buffalo Bills, as it will bring them together.
“A loss like this is good medicine… We haven’t even met any adversity like this.”Miller on losses as a humbling experience
The 33-year old said that this adversity truly reveals character, and that the Bills have a locker room full of tough guys who can respond to it.
“Real men respond to things like this and I’m excited to see how we respond,” Miller said.
Allen, who completed 42 of 63 passes for 400 yards and two TDs, said that they will learn from this game.
“Next man up… this is one game. We’ll learn from this one, take it on the chin, and again, prepare for next week,” Allen said.
McKenzie echoed those statements.
“We’re going to learn from it… We’re a resilient team, we’re going to overcome, persevere, and we’re going to do what we need to do. We know we didn’t play our best football, but we’re going to put our best foot forward, watch the film, and get better for next week.”Isaiah McKenzie on moving forward
Bills Injury Woes
And of course, one of the main storylines from this game was the injuries. The Buffalo Bills were already banged up before the game, but then dropped like flies during the game.
As of right now, Buffalo currently has 18 players dealing with some type of injury… EIGHTEEN.
McDermott said Monday that rookie CB Christian Benford will be out a couple of weeks, give or take, after fracturing his hand. WR Jake Kumerow is week-to-week with a high ankle sprain. RG Ryan Bates is in concussion protocol. And OL Tommy Doyle tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season.
As for the guys who I listed under the TBD category (including Morse), McDermott said all of those guys are improving and they’re taking it day-by-day.
On the bright side, CB Tre White will be eligible to return from the PUP list after this week. When he returns to game action is still to be determined, but that is definitely encouraging news for a Bills team who is razor thin on defense, specifically in their secondary.
So Now What???
McDermott said that they always look in-house first to find replacements, but will look outside of the organization if they need to once they find out more about the severity of these injuries.
Here are some players who I think make sense for the Bills…
The Buffalo Bills take on Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at 1 pm ET.
*All quotes come from the postgame and/or Monday afternoon press conferences (via the Buffalo Bills YouTube channel).
Featured Image: Jim Rassol/The Palm Beach Post