Mercifully, it’s over.
For the Miami Dolphins.
And probably for Mike Tannenbaum, Matt Burke and maybe even Adam Gase too.
The season to forget ended in fitting fashion: with a feckless defensive effort, impotence on offense and an ugly brawl to boot.
Final score: Bills 42, Dolphins 17.
And now the real pain begins.
Many people will lose their job in the days to come. The question is only whether it’s a complete gut job.
Gase can’t feel safe after a seventh straight loss on the road, this one perhaps the worst one yet.
They got embarrassed by a 10-loss team.
The Dolphins have played football since 1966.
This is the worst defense they have ever had.
The Dolphins broke the record for most yards allowed in franchise history (6,122, 2016) and likely would have allowed the most points in franchise history if Buffalo hadn’t eased up on its final drive. Still, the 433 points surrendered this year was second-most ever by a Dolphins defense.
Ryan Tannehill, in likely his final game as a Dolphin, went out with a thud. He turned the ball over three times and could not move the offense.
The first half was exactly what you would expect from two teams playing a meaningless game in near-freezing temperatures:
Three total interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown by Reshad Jones).
A Dolphins defense that allowed touchdowns on Buffalo’s first two drives.
A Bills team that allowed two touchdowns in 15 seconds.
And a Dolphins offense that needed to steal a page from the Eagles’ playbook to get into the end zone.
The Philly Special was just that, as Kenny Stills took a handoff from Kenyan Drake then connected with Ryan Tannehill on a three-yard touchdown pass.
But all that work to get back in the game vanished in the third quarter, with Robert Foster catching a five-yard touchdown pass and the Bills converting a Tannehill fumble into a nine-yard LeSean McCoy run.
The Dolphins finish with a 7-9 record, the seventh losing season in Stephen Ross’ 10 as owner.
Another year, another brawl
Bobby McCain was collateral damage in the latest battle of the great AFC East war.
The Dolphins and Bills loathe each other. They have been at each other’s throats for years. And for the second straight season, they closed out their schedules with a melee that resulted in ejections.
This time, somebody got hurt. McCain injured his ankle in the back and forth, but didn’t know how.
“I’m not sure if I got stepped on, I got pulled on, whatever it was,” McCain said. “Trying to break up my teammates. At the end of the day, it’s boys being boys. We’ve got to keep our cool. They’ve got to keep their cool, at the end of the day. I get they threw the flag, but we can’t let that happen.”
McCain appeared to get his hair pulled by a Bills player, but could not say for sure it happened.
If he did, it was a “low” act, McCain believes.
The officials had much to sort out after the brawl, which came with the score tied early in the second half.
Kiko Alonso lit the fuse by hitting a sliding Josh Allen late. Alonso — who has been fined for similar hits on Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck in the past two years — was tossed. So was defensive end Robert Quinn, who launched himself into the pile as the brawl began. Refs also ejected Bills offensive lineman Jordan Mills.
Alonso and Quinn left the Dolphins locker room without speaking to reporters.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” said McCain, who insisted he was OK despite leaving the game and not returning. “It sucks. I didn’t know anybody got ejected. Tough way to go out.”