MIAMI, Fla. (WIVB) — The Bills suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday 21-19. They entered the game shorthanded thanks to a slew of injuries. The backups held their own but they couldn’t overcome the heat and growing list injured players. Here are Josh Reed’s 4 observations from Miami:
This changes nothing
The Bills are still the best team in the division, conference and arguably the NFL. One loss to the Dolphins with a depleted roster in September doesn’t change that. In fact, I would argue that Miami almost losing the game reinforces what many thought — they’ll finish second in the division and the Bills will cruise to a division title. Tua Tagovailoa made a few nice throws that we haven’t seen in the past but even with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, against four backups in the secondary, he only led Miami on 2 legit scoring drives. He’s still slightly more than a game-manager.
Back me up
The Bills went deep into their roster. By the end of the game, the Bills were playing with a backup at right tackle, right guard, and a third-string center. Dion Dawkins and Rodger Saffold were the only starting lineman left standing and they still finished with 500 yards. On defense, three rookies, Kaiir Elam, Christian Benford, Ja’Marcus Ingram were lined up at cornerback. Backups Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin were at safety. Five players with very little experience held the Dolphins to just 21 points and seven of those were gifted following a fumble at the six yard line. Gabe Davis’ ankle injury seemed to be an issue. The Bills wide receiver wasn’t getting the separation we’re used to seeing.
Things got heated
After the game, the Bills players were still dealing with cramping in the locker room. Several players had to leave the game due to heat-related issues. A few players we talked to after the game, some who live in Florida, called this the toughest weather they’ve played in. On days like this, Hard Rock Stadium offers one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL with the away sideline in the baking sun and the Dolphins sideline hidden in the shade. The weather wasn’t THE reason the Bills lost but it certainly played a factor.
Story of the stats
The Bills owned the stat line. Nearly every category was lopsided in the Bills favor but there were two big ones that didn’t go their way. The offense was 2-4 in the red zone and the Dolphins were 3-3 inside the 20. Josh Allen’s fumble was the only turnover in the game and it was a costly one that led to a Dolphins TD. The Bills defense was unable to force a turnover. Despite a makeshift offensive line, Allen was able to throw for a season-high 400 yards. He also set a new franchise record with 63 pass attempts. Devin Singletary set career-highs with nine catches and 78 receiving yards.
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Josh Reed is an award-winning journalist who has served as News 4’s Sports Director since 2015. See more of his work here.