Dolphins | Rushing defense

Miami Dolphins can’t stop Buffalo Bills’ running attack in loss

 

The Dolphins anticipated the Bills’ emphasis on running but still gave up 203 rushing yards.

Special to the Miami Herald

The Dolphins were expecting a ground attack from the Bills on Sunday.

But they were powerless to stop it.

The Bills rushed for 203 yards in Sunday’s 19-0 win against a Dolphins defense that set out to stop the run.

Buffalo’s passing game was compromised before the game even started, with starting quarterback EJ Manuel injured and leading receiver Stevie Johnson inactive due to the recent death of his mother.

By the third quarter, the Bills were without their top three wide receivers after Marquise Goodwin was hurt in the first quarter, and Robert Woods was ejected in the third quarter for throwing a punch at Reshad Jones.

The Bills came into Sunday’s game leading the NFL in rushing attempts at 32.9 per game and ranking fourth in rushing yards per game (138.2).

On top of that, persistent rain and wind Sunday made passing the ball difficult.

Even with the Dolphins putting an eighth man in the box on most downs, the Bills ran the ball on 51 of their 77 offensive plays, averaging 4.0 yards per carry and controlling the ball for 36:31.

“It was one of those games where you kind of feel like you are doing the right thing and somehow, someway, you’re not,” defensive tackle Jared Odrick said.

The Dolphins’ previous season-high for rushing yards allowed was 163 in the Oct. 31 overtime win over the Bengals. During their recent three-game winning streak, the Dolphins had allowed an average of 93 rushing yards per game.

“Sometimes, you feel like you know what’s coming, and you play what’s coming, and it still gets through,” Odrick said. “You just have to get back and look at the tape and see what actually happened. There’s a lot of times you really feel like you are doing your job, but the tape never lies.”

Fred Jackson led the Bills with 111 rushing yards, more than the Dolphins’ entire offense accounted for. Jackson averaged 5.8 yards per carry with a long run of just 14 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown on a 9-yard run in the second quarter.

Buffalo’s other running back, C.J. Spiller, rushed for 77 yards, and Lewis gained 16 yards on four scrambles (excluding kneel-downs), exceeding the 14 combined yards Dolphins running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas gained on 12 rushes.

“They clearly outplayed us at the line of scrimmage,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “That’s where football starts, and they played well.”

No matter what the Dolphins tried to do, the Bills continued to find success in the running game.

“We overloaded the box. We pressured. We moved our line,” Philbin said. “Most not as successful as we’d like, but we certainly didn’t stay in the same defense.”

Said defensive end Cameron Wake: “It’s frustrating, obviously. Being out there and feeling like you have a guy stopped and he’s still kind of squirting through.

“Whether it’s a missed tackle or miscommunication or whatever it is, we’ve seen this happen where everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do for a few plays and then one play we kind of let a guy through.”

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