ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) — The Buffalo Bills have finished the regular season with a win, topping the Miami Dolphins 56-26 Sunday afternoon.
With the win the Bills improved to 13-3, extended their win streak to six games, and most importantly, secured the no. 2 seed in the AFC postseason.
The Bills started the game with a turnover after Josh Allen was picked off by Byron Jones. It led to a Miami 49-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead. Neither team was able to get anything going through the rest of the 1st quarter.
The Bills had great field position late in the first and continued to capitalize on that short field in the 2nd. Shortly after breaking the franchise record for single-season passing yards, Allen found Isaiah McKenzie to take a 7-3 lead. It was McKenzie's 4th touchdown this season.
The Allen and McKenzie connection continued later in the 2nd quarter after the two accounted for the team's second touchdown of the game to go up 14-3. After another defensive stop McKenzie got to work on special teams, returning a punt 84 yards for the touchdown. It was the team's first punt return touchdown since 2014.
Just when it looked like the Bills would take a 15-point lead into the locker room [after a late Miami field goal], Allen and John Brown had other plans. Brown, playing in his first game since being placed on injured reserve on November 28th, caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Allen to make it a 28-6 lead heading into the locker room.
The Dolphins came out of the locker room and cut into the Bills' lead after Myles Gaskin rushed for the team's first touchdown of the game. But the Bills, after their first offensive drive of the half resulted in a punt, came up big on defense after Josh Norman intercepted Tagovailoa and returned it 16 yards for the pick-six. It was the 3rd career pick-six for Norman and first since 2015.
After Matt Barkley was intercepted with 4:00 left in the 3rd quarter, the Dolphins were hoping to cut into that deficit once again until Tagovailoa was intercepted for the second time this game, this time by Dean Marlowe. It was Marlowe's first career interception as the Bills held a 35-13 lead after the 3rd quarter.
The Bills capitalized on the turnover to start the 4th quarter. Barkley found rookie WR Gabriel Davis 51-yards down field to set them up inside the red zone. Antonio Williams took the hand-off on the next play and ran it in from 18 yards out for his first career touchdown to put the Bills on top 42-13. It was déjà vu for the Bills on their next series. Marlowe once again intercepted Tagovailoa and Williams punched it in to extend their lead to 49-13.
The Dolphins added another score with a missed two-point conversion midway through the quarter, but the Bills again had a response. Barkley found Davis for another long reception, this time for a touchdown to make it a 56-19 game.
The Dolphins put a few more points on the board with less than three minutes left after Tagovailoa found Malcolm Perry for his first touchdown pass of the game. It was too little, too late though as the Bills won by 30.
By the numbers
Allen played the entire first half and finished 18-for-25 for 224 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Barkley played the entire second half, finishing 6-for-13 for 164 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
The Bills were once again fairly quiet on the ground when it comes to numbers, rushing for just 81 yards on 22 carries [63 of those yards went to Williams]. McKenzie had his best game as a Bill, finishing with six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns. He was also the team's punt and kick returner and finished with three returns for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Gabriel Davis led all receivers with just two catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Diggs finished with seven catches for 76 yards after sitting the 2nd half while Brown, playing in his first game in a month, finished with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Bills have secured the no. 2 seed thanks to their win and will be home for Wild Card weekend. Because the Ravens and Browns also won their games, the Bills still don't know their first round opponent.
Because the Browns and Ravens both won, there are a few scenarios for the Bills' first round match-up:
- If Tennessee and Indiana win, the Bills will host the Colts
- If Indiana wins and Tennessee loses, the Bills will host the Titans
- If Tennessee and Indiana lose OR if Tennessee wins and Indiana loses, the Bills will host the Dolphins