Savage Bills defence suffocates Dolphins

DOLPHINS

My pic of Ryan Tannehill pregame, who did something like this after each of his 7 sacks.

 

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Buffalo Bills shut down everything but Mother Nature at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.

Ryan Tannehill. The Miami Dolphins. Even a would-be nutbar from the stands got tackled by Buffalo’s crack security crew before he could reach the playing field.

No one was getting past Buffalo on this miserable day.

Thanks to a savage defensive effort and a ground-chewing offensive attack, the Bills crunched the Dolphins 19-0,  if only to throw into chaos Miami’s hopes of earning an AFC wildcard playoff berth.

One thing’s for sure. Miami’s loss clinched the AFC East title for the New England Patriots.

In one of the most impressive defensive performances this NFL season, the Bills held the bewildered Dolphins to the following:

—    six first downs

—    103 total yards

—    14 rushing yards on 12 attempts

—    2-of-14 on third-down conversions, and 0-for-1 on a fourth-down conversion

—    89 yards passing on 12-of-33 throwing from Tannehill and Matt Moore

—    Two interceptions

—    Seven sacks, for 46 yards in losses, and three more quarterback hits.

Put another way, the Dolphins possessed the ball 13 times. They punted the first nine times, then went interception/punt/turnover-on-downs/interception.

The Dolphins’ farthest penetration in the first half was to the Bills’ 32. In the second half they crossed midfield for only one play, to the Buffalo 46, before backup quarterback Matt Moore — who briefly subbed for Tannehill after he limped off following Kyle Williams’ second sack — threw a bad interception to Jim Leonhard.

BILLS“It was an honour to be on that sideline and watch those guys perform,” Bills head coach Doug Marrone said of his defenders. (My pregame photo of him, left.)

The mastermind of the Bills defence is coordinator Mike Pettine, who has taken all he learned under attackmeister Rex Ryan on the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets for eight years, and cranked all those aggression dials to 11.

Like his mentor, Pettine loves to mix up his pass rushers along the defensive line. In this game he flopped defensive end Mario Williams left and right, and often threw in defensive backs and linebackers on passing downs.

Miami’s offensive line often had no idea what was coming, and even when they did they were powerless to thwart the Bills onslaught.

Asked what the Bills did to be so effective to get to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins tackle Tyson Clabo said it snarky and said it best:

“The ball got snapped, and then they all came and sacked him.”

In one particular blitz package that kept getting home, Pettine brought strong safety DaNorris Searcy and linebacker Kiko Alonso right up into the line before the snap — six of the best Buffalo pass rushers all on their marks. Ready, set, go.

On the third play of the game, Searcy burst through from this formation untouched to get the sack parade rolling.

Later, showing the same six-man pressure package, Pettine added to it — blitzing tiny rookie slot corner Nickell Robey from the backside, around the edge. Robey finished with two sacks this way and nearly had at least two others, timing his jumps perfectly.

“They brought a lot of smart pressure,” Dolphins centre Mike Pouncey said.

Added offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie: “They just came out and basically executed their plays better than us.”

Tannehill said he’s “fine” after leaving the game for a series early in the fourth quarter with what the team called a knee injury. He returned and got battered again.

The Bills lead the NFL in sacks, with 56. That’s a new team record. Three players are into double figures: Mario Williams with 13, Kyle Williams with 10.5 and outside linebacker Jerry Hughes with 10.

“We have a huge package. There’s endless amount of formations and different things that we do,” Mario Williams said.

“But we just have to execute. You can draw up a great picture but if you don’t sit there and do the things right and finish the picture, then it is not going to matter.”
The Bills (6-9) close their season next Sunday at New England. With a win they would improve to 4-2 against AFC East opponents, which would be the best mark in the division.

The Dolphins entered the day with an 8-6 record, in decent position to win the second AFC wildcard berth. Now they need even more help.

“(Buffalo) outplayed us,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “I wish I had a better answer. If I had a better answer, I would have stopped it. But they clearly outplayed us at the line of scrimmage. That’s where football starts.”

And where the 8-7 Dolphins’ season might have effectively ended.

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In rematches, Pettine’s defence is hard to crack

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Give Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine a second chance to shut you down, and watch out.

In rematches this year against the New York Jets and, on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins, the Bills defence has been lights-out.

BILLSCOMBINED, Miami and the Jets scraped together 18 first downs, went 4-of-25 on third down, went 1-of-3 on fourth down, amassed 369 total yards, went 24-of-61 passing (39%) for 369 yards, threw five interceptions but no touchdowns, and took 11 sacks for 76 yards in losses.

The second-time success is no coincidence, Pettine told me after the Bills smacked the Dolphins 19-0 before 54,305 at windy, rainy Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“I think that’s a big part of the preparation,” Pettine said. “When you play an opponent for the first time, you’re kind of guessing. How are they going to attack us? There’s the blueprint. What were they trying to do?

“You want to be sure you’ve addressed all the different situations that come up. What’s their philosophy on running the football? All the different parts of their game plan, you get to sit back and dissect it.

“The staff has done a tremendous job of taking the information from the first game and relate it to the players, and help them prepare for the second one.”

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, take note.

The Bills (6-9) close the season next Sunday at New England — the only other team they’ll get to play twice this year. In the first meeting, the Patriots eked out a 23-21 win.

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Memorable day for Fred Jackson — despite broken ribs

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – After Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson, Fred Jackson is now the most accomplished running back in Buffalo Bills history.

He got there on Sunday by playing with broken ribs.

The seventh-year player from tiny Coe College passed the 5,000-yard career threshold and now, with 5,067 yards, trails only Thomas (11,938) and Simpson (10,183) in the Bills record book.

As well, in smashing his way through the Miami Dolphins on Sunday for 111 yards (on 19 carries), Jackson recorded the 15th 100-yard game of his career. Among Bills, only Thomas (with 46) and Simpson (41) have more.

“You want to be a leader on this team? One of the best ways to show that you’re with this team is to play hurt,” Jackson told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News about playing with broken ribs. “And that’s what I wanted to do — let those guys know that I would be with them.

“(I’m) a little sore, but that was expected. It was worth it.”

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Thad Lewis beats hometown Dolphins for second time

BILLSORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Thad Lewis, who grew up in the Miami area, has quarterbacked the Buffalo Bills to two victories this season.

Both against the Miami Dolphins.

As fate had it, regular starter EJ Manuel was out with knee injuries both times the Bills played the Dolphins this season. Lewis got the starting nod both times.

For a third-year journeyman backup who joined the Bills in late August, and spent the first month of the season on the practice squad, he played OK in Buffalo’s 19-0 win on Sunday.

Lewis completed 15-of-25 passes for 193 yards. Best of all, he didn’t lose the game for the Bills.

Does he have bragging rights now when he returns home in the off-season?

“Just to be able to sweep the Dolphins in your division is bragging rights (enough),” Lewis said.

 

 

 

 

 

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