The fireworks, flames and flashing lights set off during the pregame feature weren’t the only things that were different for the Dolphins on Thursday night.
No, the combination of a short week, a sore quarterback and a depleted offensive line meant Miami (6-4) had to deploy a slightly different offense if it was going to beat AFC East rival Buffalo (5-5).
Check and check.
Ryan Tannehill led a sometimes-shaky offense to the 22-9 victory in front of 71,573 at Sun Life Stadium.
Considering Tannehill was playing behind rookie Ju’Wuan James at left tackle and Dallas Thomas, who usually plays left guard, at right tackle, the offense adjusted against Buffalo’s pass rush fairly well.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor also called a simple, conservative game. Tannehill got rid of the ball quickly and rolled out more than he has all season in an attempt to avoid Buffalo’s pass rush, which has racked up 15 sacks in its past three games.
The quarterback was able to complete 26 of 34 for 240 yards and throw his way to a 114.8 passer rating.
In true form, Tannehill also threw for two second-half touchdowns.
Thomas, matched up against Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams, was the biggest blemish on the reconstructed offensive line.
Williams got past Thomas to record 3 1/2 sacks on the night — including two on one possession in the fourth quarter — and took 23 yards from the Dolphins. Buffalo got to Tannehill five times throughout the night, and Miami gave up 35 yards.
On the ground, the Dolphins outrushed Buffalo 126-54. Although Lamar Miller played smartly and led the team with 86 yards on 15 carries, it was running back Damien Williams who had the highlight-reel, one-handed 32-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter to get Miami its sixth first down on the team’s first possession of the game.
The drive ended in a field goal from kicker Caleb Sturgis, but the problem was with the offense finishing. Tannehill’s eight successful passes proved the team was able to adjust and move the ball despite the challenges.
Other big offensive players: Brian Hartline connected with Tannehill for 31 yards, and Miami was able to use Miller smartly, especially early on.
Tannehill collected only 17 yards on the ground on three carries.
The exception to Tannehill’s safe plays were the usual couple of deep attempts to receiver Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson.