But on Sunday, Joe Philbin took the ball out of his hands — at least in the first half.
The Dolphins were down 9-0 when the Dolphins took over at their 12 with 2:21 left in the second quarter. Yet the Dolphins called six consecutive rushing plays to run out the clock, even with all three of their timeouts.
“As a competitor you know I obviously want to go down and score, but it is Coach Philbin’s call and he wanted to do that,” Tannehill said. “We hadn’t done much up to that point to give him any confidence in us that we can push the ball downfield.”
Philbin, whose team has scored 10 points in its last eight quarters in Buffalo, explained his thinking after the game.
“We had, up to that point, 48 or 49 yards of offense,” Philbin said. “I wanted to come into halftime and give our team a chance to get back into the game.”
The philosophy appeared to work, as the Dolphins kicked a field goal on their first possession in the second half. But the Dolphins went scoreless the last five times they touched the ball.
The Dolphins’ rebuilt offensive line had the same issues with Buffalo as did its predecessors. Miami surrendered four sacks Sunday, including two on consecutive plays.
Making matters worse, Shelley Smith left the game in the second half with a knee injury and did not return. Dallas Thomas replaced him at right guard.
“It's still an early season,” said tackle Branden Albert. “We didn’t play well today but we have 14 more games to play.”
Although Tannehill was often under pressure, Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel barely got his jersey dirty.
The Dolphins had no sacks Sunday, and only hurried Manuel twice. It allowed the second-year quarterback to lead six scoring drives and complete 16 of 26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown.
“They did a good job in normal down and distance,” Philbin said. “I think they were double-teaming Cameron Wake a little bit, probably keeping the tight end in there and the running back and so forth.”
This and that
▪ Michael Thomas started at safety Sunday in place of Louis Delmas, who was not injured. Delmas took the field on the game’s second series.
▪ Defensive back Sammy Seamster left late in the game with a shoulder injury. He did not return.
▪ Jarvis Landry had the first catch of his career early in Sunday's game. He finished with five receptions for 49 yards.
▪ Dolphins inactives: Mike Pouncey, Koa Misi, Jordan Tripp, Bruce Gaston, Jason Fox, Billy Turner and Terrence Fede.