Gabe Davis scores in the first quarter for the Buffalo Bills. Photo by Ben Green/Buffalo Bills
A column by Senior Columnist CHUCK POLLOCK
It should have been a day of celebration for the Bills.
After a week of anticipation facing a team that put up 70 points the previous Sunday, Buffalo brought the Dolphins back to reality by hanging a 48-20 loss on Miami yesterday afternoon at Highmark Stadium.
The win improved the Bills to 3-1, the same as the Dolphins, and Buffalo, by virtue of the head-to-head victory, is in first place in the AFC East.
And, on a perfect day, the sellout crowd of 71,621 was all in from start to finish.
Afterward, an enthused Bills coach Sean McDermott admitted, “It was as loud a crowd as I’ve ever heard in my time in the NFL … playoff games … that’s as loud as it gets. It sounded like jet engines out there … it was deafening.”
And with good reason.
After a slow start, McDermott’s defense performed magnificently getting four sacks, three fourth-down stops and two takeaways.
“THE DEFENSE had us reeling early, we couldn’t stop them the first two drives and our offense was rolling,” he said. “So they held serve so we could kind of get our way about us and that was just as important as anything. You put up 48 points, that doesn’t happen real easily. I’m really proud of the way our offense played … they were top-shelf today and taking care of the ball as well.”
Quarterback Josh Allen threw four touchdown passes — three to wideout Stefon Diggs — and ran for another while putting up a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
So what could possibly ruin such a festive afternoon?
IN THE SECOND half, Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, who missed a full season after tearing up his knee on Thanksgiving of 2021, was seemingly lost again. Against the Dolphins, he suffered what appeared to be a torn Achilles tendon … the same injury suffered by Aaron Rodgers in the season opener.
The Bills reserved comment, but it would seem his season is over.
But that wasn’t all.
Christian Benford, the cornerback starter opposite White, left the game with a shoulder injury though he returned, and nickel corner Taron John exited with what appeared to be a tweaked hamstring or cramp, but also came back.
Worse, safety Jordan Poyer didn’t play with a knee injury and fellow starter Micah Hyde went to the blue tent with a seemingly minor problem, but came back out.
And suddenly, cornerback Kaiir Elam, Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2022, who’s been inactive for this season’s first four games, now becomes an important piece of the Buffalo defense.
Referring to the injuries, McDermott noted, “We were in a next-man-up type of deal and that was important because the backups at those positions were ready to go and you don’t take that for granted. They have to be physically ready and mentally ready to step in and do their 1/11th and those guys did.
When asked about White, McDermott was almost tearful.
“He’s been through a lot,” said the man who drafted him in 2017’s first round. “Sometimes you wonder why things like that happen twice. You watch how hard he’s worked to get back. I know he’s a man of faith and I know how strong he is … he will be back. He personifies what it is to be a Buffalo Bill. To see him on the field, as much as he was hurting, it was hard to watch.”
POLLOCK’S BILLS’ NOTEBOOK
• Josh Allen’s 55-yard touchdown pass to wideout Stefon Diggs was the Bills’ longest TD of the season. The game marked the fourth time Diggs caught three TDs. He did it once with Minnesota (Philadelphia) and with the Bills three times, besides Sunday, he also did it against New England and Tennessee.
His five touchdowns, one rushing, tied a career record. Allen has also thrown for multiple touchdowns in 12 straight games against Miami, an NFL record.
• Buffalo’s first takeaway came when Dolphins’ running back Raheem Mostert fumbled for the second time in the game, but this time it was covered by middle linebacker Terrel Bernard after linebacker Matt Milano knocked it loose.
Later, safety Micah Hyde intercepted an overthrown Tua Tagovailoa pass, his second of the season, tying him for the team lead.
• The Bills’ 31 first-half points were the most since they duplicated that figure against the Chiefs in 1994 at Orchard Park.
• Buffalo’s initial sack of Tagovailoa was logged by end Leonard Floyd, giving him a team-leading 4.5 on the season. Later, end Greg Rousseau got two, giving him three on the campaign, and finally tackle Ed Oliver also got his third of the season.
• Miami’s only two sacks of Allen were recorded by linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, giving him three on the season.
• It took four games, but Bills’ second-year running back James Cook finally got his first touchdown of the season. His one-yard TD run had to withstand a review but he became the ninth Buffalo player to score a TD this season.
• Milano tied for the game-high with 10 tackles and had the most solos with eight. Linebacker David Long topped the Dolphins with 10 tackles and seven solos. Van Ginkel had a game-high three tackles for loss.
• Leading the Bills’ inactives was safety Jordan Poyer (knee) which opened a roster spot for Damar Hamlin who was active for a game for the first time since he suffered a near-fatal heart issue last January in Cincinnati. Poyer’s starting spot was taken by former Ram Taylor Rapp. Hamlin saw some special teams action. Buffalo’s other inactives were cornerback Kaiir Elam, defensive tackle Poona Ford and offensive tackles Germain Ifedi and Alec Anderson.
• Miami was down three starters including elite linebacker Jaelan Phillips (oblique), who was replaced by Emmanuel Ogbah. Also out were center Connor Williams (groin) with Liam Eichenberg taking his spot and safety DeShon Ellison who was replaced by Brandon Jones. Healthy scratches included cornerback Eli Apple and tight end Tyler Kroft, the former Bill.
(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.)
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