Week 11: Defense wins this game for Buffalo
Dominating effort by much maligned unit leads to victory.
by Steve Saslow
Here are our position by position grades:
Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn't asked to do much as the Bills had a very conservative game plan. He finished 17 of 27 for 168 yards and no turnovers or scores.
Grade C: Managed the game pretty well.
C.J. Spiller proved he can carry the rock more than 20 times. He actually ran it 22 times for 91 tough yards. He constantly made something out nothing by breaking tackles and changing directions. He added 39 yards on three receptions.
Tashard Choice ran the ball for a half a yard on 3rd and 1 out of the wildcat. Gailey constantly went to him in big spots and he failed. He finished with six carries for 14 yards.
Grade B+: Spiller needs to have the ball in his hands as much as possible.
Stevie Johnson was open and reliable leading the way with six catches, as he was targeted nine times, for 79 yards.
Donald Jones couldn't come down with a pass in the end zone in the first quarter. It would have been a tough grab but he could have caught it. His first catch came in the third quarter and he fought his way for a first down. He fumbled the ball on the first play of the fourth quarter but luckily Wood recovered it. Only had two catches in all for 11 yards.
T.J. Graham was called for holding on a Spiller run. Had two catches for a pathetic five yards. Where is his world class speed?
Scott Chandler went back into mothballs with just two catches for 30 yards and he fumbled one of those catches.
Dorin Dickerson caught a screen pass for four yards.
Grade D: Didn't do anything at all.
Eric Wood recovered Jones's fumble in the final quarter.
Cordy Glenn did a solid job keeping Cameron Wake at bay most of the game but did give up one sack.
Chris Hairston was called for a false start penalty.
Grade D+: Allowed three sacks and opened up few holes for the running game. Penalties becoming a problem with this unit as well.
Mario Williams made a tackle for a 5 yard loss on Miami's second possession. He got a sack at the 2 yard line late in the first half. His offsides penalty gave Miami a first down in Buffalo territory in the third quarter. Had another tackle for loss. Very active day for him.
Marcell Dareus was called for encroachment penalty on a 3rd and 4 play giving Miami their first 1st down of the game in the 2nd quarter. His pressure forced an incompletion on a third quarter drive. He deflected a 4th quarter pass.
Kyle Williams was called for an encroachment penalty on the first play of a third quarter drive. He then stopped Bush in the backfield for a four yard loss to help stop that drive.
Kyle Moore got heavy pressure in the end zone forcing Tannehill to throw it away. Got a sack but grabbed the facemask giving them a 1st and goal on their fourth quarter touchdown drive. He flushed out Tannehill on the final drive leading to Merriman's sack
Shawne Merriman strung out a sweep that went for a one yard loss than he was called for an offsides penalty on the next play. He had a sack on Miami's final drive.
Grade A: Got pressure, three sacks, and there were no holes in the middle of the defense for the Dolphins rushing attack.
Nick Barnett had a quiet five tackles.
Kelvin Sheppard had six tackles and was solid in run defense.
Nigel Bradham got a tackle for a loss on a play strung out by Merriman. He had three in all.
Bryan Scott wasn't very active until his game clinching interception.
Grade A: By far the best day of the year for this unit.
Stephon Gilmore forced a fumble in the first quarter. Was called for an illegal contact penalty. Solid in pass coverage.
Leodis McKelvin had great coverage down the sidelines on a third quarter bomb that fell incomplete. He was called for a big pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter that led to Miami's lone offensive touchdown.
Justin Rogers had four tackles including one for a loss but was beaten for a couple of catches downfield.
Jairus Byrd before making his fantastic interception he recovered a first quarter fumble. He then had a last second pass breakup on a 2nd quarter bomb. Later on that drive he made a nice open field tackle to force a punt.
George Wilson led the way with six tackles as he was really good in run support.
Da'Norris Searcy had four tackles.
Grade A: Really shutdown the Miami passing attack.
Shawn Powell had seven punts and five ended up inside the 20 including punts to the one and the 16 yard line in the final minutes. Great day for the rookie
Rian Lindell Hit all four field goal attempts from 32, 34, 42, and 19 yards out.
Leodis McKelvin returned the first punt 79 yards for a score and added 19 yards on two other returns. Also averaged 25 yards on three kickoff returns.
Kraig Urbik was called for a false start on a Lindell FG attempt.
Coverage Units gave the McKelvin's TD back by giving up a 96 yard kickoff return for a score. Lindell made a pathetic attempt at a tackle on the play. Allowed a whopping 181 yards on five kickoff returns and 31 yards on two punt returns.
Grade B-: Take away the kickoff return it would have been a great day for this unit.
Chan Gailey loves the wildcat way too much. On the first offensive series when they could have made a statement they run it out of the wildcat on 3rd and 1 and fail to pick up the first down. Insisted on using Choice in big spots. The Bills were terrible on third and short and most of the problem was personnel and play calling. Got way too conservative as the game progressed.
Dave Wannstedt had his unit ready for the first time all year. They were fantastic.
Bruce DeHaven had a very up and down day. His kicker and punter were great. They got a score and gave up a score in the return game.
Grade C: They won despite their head coach.
Dolphins Game Preview