Miami Dolphins

Playoffs? Forget about it after Cutler throws 3 picks, Dolphins lose to Bills 24-16

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) rushes past Miami Dolphins' Stephone Anthony (44) and Reshad Jones (20) for a touchdown during the first half Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) rushes past Miami Dolphins' Stephone Anthony (44) and Reshad Jones (20) for a touchdown during the first half Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. AP

That’s all, folks.

There are two weeks left in the Dolphins season. But for all intents and purposes, the dream died here Sunday.

Final score: Bills 24, Dolphins 16.

Buffalo improved to 8-6 on the year. Miami dropped to 6-8 and two games out of the wild card.

All that work the past two weeks to get back into the playoff race? Undone in three miserable hours here Sunday.

Why? Because the Bills got a championship performance from their quarterback and the Dolphins got a terrible performance from theirs.

It’s official: Tyrod Taylor is a Dolphin killer, and on Sunday, mahi-mahi was on the menu.

Meanwhile, Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler had the kind of regression-to-mean outing that has defined his career.

When the Dolphins needed Cutler the most Sunday, he was at his worst.

Cutler threw three second-half interceptions, including two on back-to-back possessions when the game’s outcome was still in doubt.

Cutler looked like a completely different human being than the one who slayed Denver and New England the past two weeks.

He was nearly perfect against the Patriots. He struggled to complete even the simplest passes against the Bills.

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Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler (6) recovers a fumble during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sun., Dec. 17, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 24-16. Rich Barnes AP

And he’s lucky the score was as close as it was. Cutler fumbled four times Sunday, but remarkably, recovered each one.

Cutler was just off — from his second pass attempt to his last.

As for Taylor, his stats weren’t incredible, but anyone who watched the game Sunday knows he was the difference. Taylor accounted for two touchdowns — one passing and one rushing.

Nobody should have been surprised. He has lit up the Dolphins every chance he has had.

Taylor’s career stats against Miami after Sunday’s game: 89 of 137 (65 percent) for 1,232, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s a passer rating of 115.6.

But where he’s really been deadly? With his legs.

Taylor has 193 career rushing yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries against the Dolphins.

And he has escaped far too many sacks to count.

“Frustrated, disappointed, obviously, especially when I’m in that situation,” defensive end Cameron Wake said. “I expect to make that play.”

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Buffalo Bills' Preston Brown (52) tackles Miami Dolphins' Kenny Stills (10) during the second half of an NFL football game Sun., Dec. 17, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 24-16. Rich Barnes AP

Added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: “One particular play I let him out of the pocket. I’ve got to have better contain.”

Charles Harris, Miami’s rookie defensive end, said the Dolphins’ game plan on defense was to keep Taylor in a box. They simply couldn’t.

And as goes the Dolphins’ tackling, so does their defense. And on Sunday, their tackling was atrocious. Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who had 96 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, made Dolphins defenders look downright foolish at times.

McCoy and Kiko Alonso were traded for each other in 2015. On Sunday, the Bills showed the world again that they won that trade.

A reporter reminded McCoy about one particularly nasty juke move that left Alonso in his wake.

“Yeah, it’s not the first time,” McCoy said.

And it’s not the first time the Bills have essentially ended Miami’s season. Buffalo spoiled the Dolphins’ playoff hopes late in 2013, and Joe Philbin is probably Miami’s ex-coach because of his 2-5 record against the Bills.

The loss also ensured the Dolphins will not have a winning record for the 10th time in the past 12 years. And while there is a Rube Goldberg scenario that could still get Miami into the postseason at 8-8, everyone in Miami’s cramped locker room knew that their season probably ended here Sunday.

“It just sucks, man,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey. “It’s a bad feeling.”

Said receiver Jarvis Landry: “Obviously, we knew everything that’s at stake. We couldn’t make it happened.”

As for Cutler, who might be playing the final games of his career the next two weeks?

“I think anybody that loses games gets frustrated,” he said. I think it’s hard not say. I love playing with these guys. We have a great coaching staff. We have a lot of talent there, and it makes it fun to go to work.

“I don’t think we’ll have any issues with guys shutting down.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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