Bills try to continue Dolphins' skid
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are heading in opposite directions as they approach Sunday's game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Bills (4-7) have suddenly come alive with back-to-back victories over the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, while the Dolphins (5-6) have lost six of eight since a 3-0 start.
Miami head coach Adam Gase is particularly distressed about consecutive defeats to the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts, blowing a 24-10 lead, that have put the Dolphins' playoff hopes in jeopardy.
"You're disappointed because you've got two games where you're sitting there going, 'Well, 5-6, or 7-4,'" Gase told reporters early this week. "So, it's a (crappy) feeling.
"We're getting turnovers. It's a shame. We're in the plus, we block a punt, do all those type of things and then don't come out with a win (against the Colts). We'll ... correct what we need to correct, and try and figure out a way to win a game."
While the Dolphins will be favored at home, getting past the Bills might not be as easy as some would think.
Even though Miami has had its way with Buffalo over the years, leading the all-time regular-season series by 59-44-1, the Bills swept both games last season - winning the season finale on New Years Eve in Miami to make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
Buffalo has won seven of the last 10 games against Miami.
The Bills have turned things around in their two more recent games by getting the ball into the end zone eight times, equaling the number of touchdowns they scored in the first nine games, while scoring a total of 65 points.
"There's things that obviously we've done better," said offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who added that those things won't automatically carry over to this week against the Dolphins.
"You've got to do a good job each week. Each week is a new week of coming in here ... I've got a lot of respect for the guys in the room that we work with and continually grinding it out, worrying about one week at a time, taking care of the opponent. Really, it comes down to execution between the white lines of throwing, catching, protecting, blocking, playing fast, doing the right things. One week has no bearing on the next."
The Bills probably will need to get more out of rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who completed only 8 of 19 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville, and he might be able to do that because Miami ranks 29th in the league on total defense.
Allen, returning from an elbow injury, did his best work against the Jaguars with his legs, running for 99 yards. Buffalo also needs to get running back LeSean McCoy going, because he has only 426 yards rushing and a 3.3-yard average this season.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill also was returning from an injury (shoulder) last week and completed 17 of 25 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns).
However, Gase took the ball out of his hands as the Dolphins tried to run the ball and the clock with little success in the fourth quarter, allowing quarterback Andrew Luck to bring the Colts from behind.
With a 24-17 lead, Miami had two possessions in the fourth quarter and went three-and-out twice, with minus-one yard on six plays while running only 2:30 off the clock.
Twice Gase elected to run the ball on third-and-10 instead of having a frustrated Tannehill throw.
Given time, Luck threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron and then set up Adam Vinatieri's winning 32-yard field goal with a 34-yard completion to wide receiver Chester Rogers.
Gase defended the play-calling in the fourth quarter because of a lack of field position, but Tannehill obviously wasn't happy about it when answering questions about it after the game.
"I totally understand the call there, but as a competitor, it's tough," the quarterback said. "You want the ball in your hands.
"The way it went down really hurts. We have to get past it. There are still five football games in front of us and everything is still on the table. But this hurts ... an AFC game, on the road, in good position to win and to not finish it ... it hurts."
Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Dolphins is getting their coach and quarterback on the same page.
Updated November 30, 2018