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Week 17 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 22, Miami Dolphins 16


What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins to make playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Buffalo got an early lead and was able to depend on their defense against Miami's backup quarterback David Fales. Buffalo's offense was deflated when LeSean McCoy injured his ankle, but played hard and largely without errors. Charles Clay was the most effective member of the passing game as he had frequent success on crossing routes, and Tyrod Taylor was effective extending plays and running while limiting aerial mistakes

Miami Dolphins

Jay Cutler was only in the game for one drive, and the team installed David Fales. The offense was put on Fales shoulders after the team fell behind by three scores, and he got them in position to have a chance to win after a recovered onsides kick, but was picked off to end the game. Jarvis Landry had another strong game and scored, but was ejected for his participation in a scuffle after his touchdown.

Buffalo Bills

QB Tyrod Taylor, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 27 - 204 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 35 - 0
Tyrod Taylor executed the formula that has been successful in Buffalo's wins this season. Buffalo was able to get an early lead and play close to the vest with Taylor limiting mistakes and creating with his legs while relying on their defense. As a passer Taylor hit Nick O'Leary on a deep throw for a touchdown, and made several throws to Charles Clay and Kelvin Benjamin for key conversions. Taylor was also effective rushing and buying time scrambling. Taylor had the opportunity for a bigger day passing but he missed Nick O'Leary in the end zone on a wide-open crossing route, and was nearly intercepted on a deep pass to Deonte Thompson where Thompson was unable to separate. Taylor did fumble on a play where Miami was called for a facemask, but otherwise played mistake free football. Taylor's play has been a key part of Buffalo's first playoff appearance since the Clinton administration.

RB LeSean McCoy, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets)
LeSean McCoy suffered a sprained ankle against Miami. X-Rays were reported negative during the game, but he did not return to the game. McCoy was featured early, but found little room to run, particularly on first down when Miami crowded the box. When McCoy was able to get room to run he was elusive, particularly in the receiving game. McCoy ran very hard during the game, and at points it was to his detriment as he reversed course and lost yardage. McCoy's totals are down from other seasons, but it is hard to overstate how important he has been in key situations for Buffalo's offense throughout the season.

RB Marcus Murphy, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
Marcus Murphy combined with Mike Tolbert to fill in for an injured LeSean McCoy. Murphy showed good vision and the ability to set up blocks on the interior. As a talent, Murphy is an unexceptional athlete who relies on his vision and patience more than his physical tools.

RB Mike Tolbert, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 39 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)
Mike Tolbert joined with Marcus Murphy in relief of LeSean McCoy. Tolbert is unexceptional, but ran hard, and flattened Lawrence Timmons on a run up the middle. Tolbert is more of a straight forward runner than McCoy and is less likely than McCoy to take losses as a runner.

WR Kelvin Benjamin, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets)
Kelvin Benjamin was limited to only two catches during a game that Buffalo spread the ball around outside of eight targets to Charles Clay. Benjamin worked intermediate area of the field on a scramble by Tyrod Taylor which converted a first down and later caught a slant.

WR Deonte Thompson, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (3 targets)
Deonte Thompson continued to be Buffalo's deep threat. Thompson was targeted deep and drew a pass interference which set up Buffalo for a goal line touchdown. Thompson otherwise worked the middle of the field, and remained the second wide receiver in the offensive priority behind Benjamin.

WR Zay Jones, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (3 targets)
Zay Jones continued to be phased out of the Buffalo offense against Miami. He was targeted once on a ball that bounced before he could extend to catch it.

TE Charles Clay, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (8 targets)
Charles Clay led the Buffalo offense in receiving against his former team. Clay was successful on crossing routes, and a designed target on Tyrod Taylor's bootlegs. He dropped one pass, but was the most effective member of Buffalo's offense in a game where the script allowed Buffalo to play close to the vest.

TE Nick OLeary, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 26 - 1 (2 targets)
Ran a deep seam route that meshed with crossing route from the other side of the field. The play caused the deep safety to get confused, and O'Leary was left wide open for the first score of the game. O'Leary was later targeted in the end zone on a crossing route, but was overthrown by Tyrod Taylor.


Miami Dolphins

QB David Fales, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 42 - 265 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 8 - 1
Fales piloted an aggressive-minded offense that was going for it on fourth down from the time he entered the game. He was 1-for-2 on fourth down in the first drive, one that ended in field goal range on a failed fourth down. Fales next three drives stalled out in Miami's end of the field. He hooked up with Jarvis Landry, who did most of the work after the catch to get into Buffalo territory during the first drive of the second half, but the drive ended on another failed fourth down. Fales led the team on two meaningless scoring drives in the fourth quarter, both composed of passing plays except for one Kenyan Drake run and a Fales run for a score. The Dolphins recovered an onsides kick to give the team a chance at a desperation touchdown game-winning drive, but Fales threw an interception to end the game instead.

QB Jay Cutler, 3 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 2 - 6 - 0 TD / 0 INT
Cutler failed to create a first down on his only drive of the day before giving way to David Fales.

RB Kenyan Drake, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 75 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)
Drake was running hot to begin this game, but the Dolphins went away from the running game the further they fell behind. He was ejected the game in the fourth quarter, but did have a reception to get the team into the red zone on their first touchdown drive of the day.

WR Jarvis Landry, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 92 - 1 (10 targets)
Landry played a big role on David Fales first drive that stalled out in the red zone, and was quiet until the team's first touchdown drive, which he ended with a score on a shovel pass. The play was followed by a melee, which resulted in the ejection of multiple players, including Landry.

WR DeVante Parker, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (7 targets)
Parker had one impact play on the team's first scoring drive, which ended with a field goal, but otherwise, he was used mostly in the short passing game. Parker fumbled on one reception, but a teammate recovered it.