Armando Salguero

Overtime thriller: Dolphins beat Bills after huge Jay Ajayi run

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) runs inside the five to set up a first quarter touchdown as the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016.
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) runs inside the five to set up a first quarter touchdown as the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- You didn’t think this getting-in-the-playoffs thing would be easy, did you? It certainly wasn’t that on Saturday when the Miami Dolphins were extended to overtime before beating the Buffalo Bills, 34-31.

Miami gave up 31 points and 552 yards but still got the win on a 27-yard overtime kick by Andre Franks. The winning score was set up by a Jay Ajayi 57-yard run that gave the Dolphins the ball deep inside Buffalo territory.

Ajayi finished this game with 206 yards rushing on the day. He rushed 214 yards the first game against Buffalo. So, yeah, Ajayi this season collected 420 yards in two games against the Bills.

And the Dolphins are now perfectly positioned for making the playoffs. The Denver Broncos, for example, must win each of the their final two games and hope the Dolphins lose next week to pass Miami in the playoff chase.

If the Broncos lose Sunday against Kansas City, the Dolphins are in the playoffs.

Breathe.

Exhale.

This was awesome!

The Dolphins pulled this one out despite stumbling on defense and falling down late in regulation.

The end of regulation was mostly a problem for the Dolphins -- at least before a last second drive of 24 yards that led to a 55-yard tying field goal by Andrew Franks.

That kick sent the game into overtime. Before that kick? Nightmare.

Sometimes football is actually easy to figure out.

Sometimes it’s about kickers kicking.

And runners running.

And defenders defending.

The Dolphins failed on the first. And the second. And the third at the end of regulation.

That’s the reason the Bills were able to come back from two touchdowns down at one point to actually take a 31-28 lead.

A game that the Dolphins dominated in the first half and mostly had under control in the second half slipped away when the fundamentals of the game escaped the Dolphins.

Let’s recap:

The kickers kicking part? Not when Andrew Franks is unable to connect on a 46-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have given the Dolphins a considerable margin and probably made the Bills go to passing game rather than sticking with the run.

About that run. The Bills ran for 239 yards against the Dolphins. On the ground. Like, with their legs.

It was as if the Bills simply could push the Miami defense aside and gain six yards. And that is what seemiingly happened. The Bills ran. And ran. And ran.

Interestingly, the Dolphins were running the football well also. And nursing a 28-24 lead with four minutes to play, the Dolphins seemed destined to run the football and try to run out the game. But that’s not what happened.

Instead the Dolphins inexplicably went with an end around by Jarvis Landry. Then a screen pass to Landry, which he dropped. And a pass to Landry for three yards.

Inside of three minutes to play. On a day the running game was averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

Four minute offense fundamentals? None.

The Bills are not likely going to be in the playoffs because approximately 4,302,532,234 things have to happen for them to get there. But they didn’t play dead.

Indeed, they dominated the Miami defense in the second half.

LeSean McCoy scored on a 19-yard touchdown.

Charles Clay scored on an 18-yard touchdown.

The Miami defense was on its heels most of the second half. The Bills doubled their first half production in the second half.

But at the end it was the Dolphins standing.

Franks, who missed one and hit one previously, was good from 27 yards out to seal the deal. This was the first Dolphins victory in Buffalo since 2011.

The Dolphins are 10-5.

An amazing season continues.

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