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Week 16 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 34, Buffalo Bills 31


What you need to know

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive, while ending that of the Buffalo Bills, by defeating the Bills, 34-31 on Saturday. Matt Moore continued his stellar play in relief of Ryan Tannehill, completing 16 of 30 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jay Ajayi had his best game in five weeks, rushing for 206 yards and one touchdown while breaking numerous big plays against a porous Bills defensive front. Devante Parker bounced back in a big way, catching four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Kenyan Drake also chipped in for 56 yards and a touchdown on only four carries. Kenny Stills caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown while Jarvis Landry had a quiet day, catching only three passes for 29 yards.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills were eliminated from any chance at the playoffs by the Miami Dolphins. Over the season, their offense has improved as their key players have gotten healthy but they are still not a strong team without a deep group of wide receivers. They should challenge again for the playoffs next season.

Miami Dolphins

QB Matt Moore, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 30 - 233 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0
Matt Moore's job of stepping in for the injured Ryan Tannehill, while simultaneously keeping the Dolphins playoff hopes alive, was not an easy one, but he has responded with three fantastic performances. On Saturday against the Bills was no different, as Moore completed 16 of 30 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns and one interceptions. Moore has not had to have the playbook trimmed down for him, and did a marvelous job of putting the Dolphins skill position players in the best position to succeed and only turning the ball over once. While it may appear as though Moore has been nothing more than a game manager due to a lack of gaudy stats, that is the furthest thing from the truth. The Dolphins run a ball control offense that depends on quick strikes, and Moore has done a great job of finding his receivers with great timing and accuracy, allowing them to create yards after the catch. This was especially true on his touchdown pass to Devante Parker. On third and six from the Miami 44 yard line, Moore dropped back and hit Parker perfectly in stride coming across the middle of the field from the left hash mark. Parker deserves all the credit from there, as he turned the play into a 56 yard touchdown, but it is plays like that show Moore's poise in the pocket. Moore also connected with Kenny Stills for a six yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

RB Jay Ajayi, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 32 - 206 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets)
With Ryan Tannehill on the sidelines the last three weeks, Miami has continued to ride Jay Ajayi, despite having opposing defenses stack the box time and time again. AJayi responded with perhaps his best performance to date, rushing 32 times for 206 yards and a touchdown while keeping the Dolphins in the game. The Miami offensive line also played well against a Buffalo defensive front that is not one of the better units in the league, and this showcased Ajayi's ability to dominate a game when he is not seeing three defenders in the backfield on every play. Ajayi broke numerous big plays in this game, but none bigger than his 57 yard run late in overtime that set up the winning field goal for Miami. One of Ajayi's best qualities is that he gets stronger as the game goes on, and while defenses start to tire, he punishes them with his physical running style. Ajayi's ability to handle a huge work load most likely saved Miami's season on Saturday, as the Bills were moving the ball very well and generating big plays almost at will.

WR Jarvis Landry, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (6 targets)
Coming off a big game the week before, Jarvis Landry was not featured much against the Bills, catching only three passes for 29 yards. The games in which Landry has big production, opposing wide receiver Devante Parker does not, and vice versa. On Saturday, it was Parker's time to step up. Landry did not receive his full compliment of targets, but that is not surprising considering Jay Ajayi rushed 32 times and Matt Moore completed only 16 passes on the day.

WR DeVante Parker, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 85 - 1 (7 targets)
After four weeks of poor performances, Parker picked a great time to step up and provide one of his best plays of the season in a game that the Dolphins needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Parker caught four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, but none bigger than his 56 yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. With the Dolphins facing a third and six at their own 44 yard line, Parker ran a shallow in-route from the left side of the formation.

He made a quick move to gain separation from his defender and caught the ball four yards from the line of scrimmage, before shaking off several arm tackles, juking two Bills defenders out of their socks, and turning a four yard in-route into a 56 yard touchdown reception. Parker is not necessarily known for his ability in the open field, but on this play he showed why he is the complete package. He can be effective as a possession receiver in the short passing game, get down field and use his athleticism to make big plays, and he can also turn a short gain into a long touchdown with a nice blend of size and speed.

WR Kenny Stills, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 1 (8 targets)
Kenny Stills had a solid game for the Dolphins, catching three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. While Stills has regularly seen deep targets, he has also become more involved in the intermediate passing game with Matt Moore at quarterback. Stills is not known for his hands, but he did a good job in making several tough catches against the Bills. Stills scored on a rather easy six yard touchdown reception that saw him gain separation quickly from his defender before Matt Moore found him uncovered in the endzone.


Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 93 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 39 - 329 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 12 - 60 - 0
Tyrod Taylor had a good game throwing the ball all over the place. While he missed a few throws, he was mostly accurate hitting receivers running short and medium routes. His best throw of the game was an absolute beauty to Watkins in the endzone for the long range TD. When the Bills needed Taylor to score late in the game, he was able to direct his team downfield until the eventual Charles Clay touchdown. In overtime, he did sustain a decent drive but the kicker shanked a field goal. It was a shame to see Taylor essentially removed from play by two gimmick plays in overtime. It would most likely have been better for the Bills if Taylor was in position to actually make plays. Taylor is a QB who can take a team into the playoffs but he needs to be surrounded by talent to do so. He has the #1 WR, RB, and TE; if the Bills can shore up their once-great defense and fill out their receiving corps, they will be a strong team next year.

RB LeSean McCoy, 70 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 128 - 1, Rec: 5 - 17 - 0 (6 targets)
LeSean McCoy continued his excellent season with yet another grand display. He is so, so quick and can't be caught when he gets to the edge. McCoy knows how to take every small hole to its extreme end with massive chunks of yardage. Tyrod Taylor also keeps McCoy involved in the passing game with many dumpoff targets. With the Bills eliminated from the playoffs, McCoy should be rested the final week and protected from injury. The Bills need McCoy fully healthy for the start of next year.

RB Mike Gillislee, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 91 - 0
Mike Gillislee had a great game running the ball. He showed excellent speed and ran hard. His black mark on the day was the failure to convert consecutive 3rd and 2, 4th and 1 carries. As the season has gone on, Gillislee has played well and has proven his status as LeSean McCoy's backup.

WR Sammy Watkins, 84 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 154 - 1 (10 targets)
Sammy Watkins had a great day tearing up the Dolphins' defense. He did miss a deep ball because he couldn't track the ball in the air and Tyrod Taylor underthrew a pass while Watkins was streaking down the field but almost every other target ended with a catch. He was able to tiptoe inbounds on a sideline catch and caught a beautiful throw in the endzone for a passing TD. This was Watkins' best game of the season and it's not particularly close. If Watkins can close the season out strong, and avoid getting injured before Week 1 2017, the Bills will know that they have a #1 WR.

WR Robert Woods, 79 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (6 targets)
Robert Woods was utilized in crossing routes but his most effective damage was done when he was wide-open on a fleaflicker play. In a game where Taylor threw a ton, Woods was part of the offense but not a key cog.

WR Marquise Goodwin, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (5 targets)
Marquise Goodwin was targeted five times but was unable to break coverage from most of them. He was only able to haul in one 16 yard catch.

TE Charles Clay, 88 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 85 - 2 (10 targets)
Charles Clay had his best game this season against the Dolphins and it could have been even better. Every time he had the ball, which was often, he was difficult to take down. His first TD reception had two defenders collide into Clay with both of them falling down but Clay remaining standing. He was able to walk into the endzone after taking two hard simultaneous hits. Clay caught another TD falling to the ground for a late score but the Bills were unable to take advantage. Clay also received two other endzone targets that were almost touchdowns; on one he didn't drag his second foot inbounds, on the other he was very clearly interfered with. This was the Charles Clay that the Bills gave big money to.