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All our week 12 content

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Other Week 11 Game Recaps
ARI at ATLBAL at PITCHI at SFCIN at KCCLE at DALGB at DETIND at NEJAX at HOU
MIA at BUFNO at OAKNYJ at STLPHI at WASSD at DENTB at CAR

Week 11 Game Recap: Miami Dolphins 14, Buffalo Bills 19


Miami Dolphins

QB Ryan Tannehill, Pass: 14 - 28 - 141 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0

After a surprising 4-3 start to season, Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins were well within the playoff hunt. However, a short three weeks later, Tannehill and the Dolphins are at the bottom of the AFC East staring a three game losing streak in the face. Those struggles, especially for Tannehill, continued on the Thursday night primetime matchup in Buffalo. Tannehill opened the game with consecutive three and outs, completing two of his first three throws but only for six yards and a way too conservative QB draw on 3rd and 14 against one of the leagues worst defenses. Tannehill opened the 3rd drive with a 17-yard strike to a curling Brian Hartline, but CB Stephon Gilmore was able to rip the pass out as Hartline tried to get up field, turning the ball over at midfield. The Dolphins finally picked up a first down on their 5th drive, but only because Buffalo jumped offside. Tannehill wasn't able to do much with the gift, hitting Davone Bess for a quick five yards on a Z-route before missing Bess on the next play on a quick slant. The following drive saw Miami pick up their only non-penalty 1st down (one of only two in the half) on a 14-yard swing pass to Reggie Bush after Hartline set a nice pick on the coverage. However, much like every drive in the first half, the Dolphins were unable to sustain and after batted ball at the line and a two-yard drag to Bess, the punting unit sent the ball back to Buffalo. Tannehill and the Dolphin offense's final possession in the first half was perhaps their worst of the half, starting at their own 12-yard line. After a stunted run, Tannehill tried to boot off the play fake and was met in the end zone by an unblocked Kyle Moore. Tannehill had no choice but to throw pass into the seats to avoid the safety. 3rd down was a disaster too as Mario Williams went right through rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin like a wet paper bag, dropping Tannehill just outside the end zone. If nothing else, Tannehill did a nice job stepping up into the pressure to prevent the safety. The opening drive of the 2nd half looked sadly similar to the first half. After another encroachment penalty gifted the Dolphins a first down after two short runs, Tannehill tried to hit Bess on a "double move", but CB Leodis McKelvin easily stuck to Bess' hip and forced the incompletion. Trying to get Bush in space, Miami tried a screen pass, but Tannehill's toss lacked any touch (looked almost like an intentional hot pass) and it zipped right through Bush's hands. The offense finally showed some signs of life on the next drive, with Tannehill hitting Hartline for 14 yards on the deep in. After a poor attempt at a deep toss to Hartline down the sideline, another encroachment penalty kept the Miami drive alive. Working off play action on 2nd down, Tannehill had a wide-open Charles Clay running up the seam, but threw an awful pass too far inside instead of putting it on Clay, resulting in an incompletion. Another penalty kept the drive alive, but Tannehill could not take advantage, skipping his next pass to Clay over the middle before throwing well wide of Marlon Moore on the comeback. Using the momentum from the previous drive, Tannehill worked the offense down the field for Miami's best drive of the night. After another batted pass on 1st down, Tannehill hit Bess over the middle on 3rd down for eight yards. Again attacking on first down, Tannehill had one of his best throws of the night to Rishard Matthews. Matthews ran right past the coverage and Tannehill dropped a perfect ball over the top of the coverage to the streaking Matthews and the badly beaten McKelvin was forced to literally tackle Matthews to prevent the completion. The pass was ultimately incomplete, but only because Matthews had been tackled on the play. Three plays later, Tannehill again found his favorite target on the night, hitting Bess on the corner route for 14 yards. Tannehill took a bad sack two plays later, but was saved by the Moore facemask. Tannehill finally found the end zone two plays later, hitting Bess in the front corner of the end zone, pulling the Dolphins within five. Taking over at their own one, Tannehill did a nice job working out of own end zone, hitting Hartline on 3rd down for 12 yards. Two plays later Tannehill found the grossly under utilized Anthony Fasano across the middle for eight yards. After a sack, Tannehill threw his first INT on the night, trying to hit Bess down the sideline. Safety Jairus Byrd made an Ed Reed-esqe play, laying out at full speed, beating Bess to the ball and making the INT. A truly remarkable play from Byrd much more so than a poor throw from Tannehill. Tannehill was given more shot on the game's final drive and looked to be well on his way. Tannehill found the crossing Bess for 18 yards and immediately picked up another 19 on the following play to Matthews on the crosser. After a questionable offensive pass interference call on Hartline the next play, the Dolphins faced a 1st and 20. Tannehill got caught staring Bess down over the middle, and was considerably late on the throw. Perhaps Tannehill's worst throw of the night, the late throw was well behind Bess and right into Bryan Scott's arms, ending the comeback bid. Tannehill continued his poor play against the Bills, but it appears the lack of speed on the outside finally caught up to the Dolphins. Buffalo was able to sit on the short routes, daring Tannehill to beat them down the field and the weapons just aren't there for the rookie QB to attack the collapsed coverage.

RB Reggie Bush, Rush: 10 - 20 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets)

After a lackluster performance the week prior, Reggie Bush looked to the right the ship against the porous Bills' defense. The ship never made it out of the harbor, however, as Bush was held in check, averaging two yards a carry on the night (1.0 without his long of 11 yards). Not able to operate in the much-needed space, Bush really struggled to get anything going. Trying to get outside on his second run, Bush was tripped up four yards behind the line of scrimmage by Mario Williams. Bush finally found some space on a swing pass, picking up 14 yards, but did nothing else in the passing game (sans a one yard catch later in the game). Even Bush's long of 11 yards showed some disparaging signs, as he worked through a gaping hole, but lacked any explosiveness once he reached the 2nd level. Bush appeared more concerned with protecting his knee than picking up extra yardage, jumping up into the tackler instead of attacking the contact. The offense as a whole really struggled, especially considering the defense it faced on Thursday night and Bush was no exception, who at times appeared to still be thinking about that previously injured knee.

RB Daniel Thomas, Rush: 12 - 33 - 0

Like Bush, Thomas wasn't able to muster much in the running game despite the favorable matchup. Thomas actually received two more carries than Bush, and was able to pick up 13 more yards, but still only averaged a paltry 2.8 yards a carry. Far from explosive, Thomas did his best when he took the carry and attacked the middle of the line. Thomas nearly had a TD just prior to Tannehill's lone TD pass, but was stuck at the two-yard line by the safety Da'Norris Searcy and pushed back. Thomas helped get the Dolphins off their own one later in the game, but again, did little more than blasted the interior of the line and found space for the eight-yard run. Thomas was not targeted once in the passing game, but does appear to be gaining the Dolphin's coaching staff's favor.

RB Jorvorskie Lane, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0

Lane was given one carry as the Dolphins tried to create some room after being pinned on their own one, but was stuffed at the line of scrimmage and nearly tackled in the end zone for a safety.

WR Davone Bess, Rec: 6 - 50 - 1 (11 targets)

Bess led the Dolphins in every statistical category, including 11 targets and the team's lone offensive TD. As he has since his introduction to the league, Bess worked the middle of field and provided a nice release for Tannehill. Miami tried to get Bess down the field, but his "double move" (only referenced as such as he technically pulled two moves, but looked incredibly unpolished in doing so) was easily covered by the Bills' (horrible pass defense, remember) 4th corner. Bess' long of 18 yards came on Miami's final drive where the WR showed sneaky elusiveness and intelligence, catching the ball on the crosser in the middle of the field and worked to get out of bounds to save the clock. Bess' TD went only for two yards, but was a pretty catch nonetheless. Falling out of bounds, Bess was able to corral the pass and drag both feet before he fell out of bounds. Initially ruled incomplete, replay showed Bess was able to get both feet in bounds prior to spilling out of the side of the end zone.

WR Brian Hartline, Rec: 4 - 49 - 0 (7 targets)

Hartline was second on the team in targets with seven, but only managed to catch four of his targets. Hartline had one of his tougher games of the season, turning the ball over in the first half and then picking up a late offensive pass interference penalty on Miami's final drive. Hartline's 2nd catch went for 17 yards over the middle, but after turning the ball up field, had the ball ripped from his hands by rookie Stephon Gilmore. The Bills recovered the fumble and turned it in to three points. Later, on the Dolphin's final drive, after two consecutive completions and with the Bills' defense reeling, Hartline ran a nice comeback route. However, as he turned to come back, he (ever so slightly) extended his arm and pushed off the coverage. Hartline made a nice catch on the sideline, but all for naught as the flag was thrown. Like Bess, Hartline doesn't have the top end speed to stretch the defense and the Bills were comfortable suffocating the shorter routes, giving Hartline little room to operate.

WR Rishard Matthews, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (2 targets)

Matthews was the lone speed threat for the Dolphins, but only received two targets. Appearing to catch McKelvin off guard, Matthews ran right by the nickel corner, forcing McKelvin to tackle the rookie for the 30-yard penalty. The pass just missed and could have been much bigger if not for the tackle. Matthews' lone catch came on the Dolphin's final drive, picking up 19 yards on the crosser.

TE Anthony Fasano, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets)

It is hard to understand why Miami could only find two targets for one of their better passing weapons, especially considering the struggles the Bills have had versus the tight end in 2012. However, Fasano only caught one of his two targets, picking up eight yards. Fasano worked across the middle, catching the short toss form Tannehill before being dropped immediately. The Dolphin offense as a whole was clearly out of sync and is perhaps to blame for the paltry numbers from Fasano.

TE Charles Clay (2 targets)

Listed as a FB, clearly Clay is more the H-back James Casey type in the Miami offense. Clay didn't get his first target until the 2nd half and missed what could have been a huge play had Tannehill been able to make a better throw. Clay released up the seam uncovered, but Tannehill threw the pass like Clay was running a post instead of putting it on Clay's hands. Clay would get another target on the same drive, but pressure and a hit on Tannehill forced a skipped pass to Clay.


Buffalo Bills

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Pass: 17 - 27 - 168 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0

Like his counterpart in Ryan Tannehill, Fitzpatrick had what appeared to be one of his better matchups facing a weak Dolphin's passing defense. However, like Tannehill, Fitzpatrick struggled to get much going in the passing game, with the Bills' coaching staff clearly comfortable milking their double digit lead for the majority of the game. It wasn't until the Bills' 3rd drive that Fitzpatrick threw his first pass, a failed attempt at a back shoulder throw to Stevie Johnson on 2nd down. A rare disconnect between the QB and WR, as clearly Fitzpatrick made a quick audible at the line and Johnson just missed the read. Fitzpatrick made amends the very next play, hitting Johnson on a deep in for 15 yards on 3rd and 10. Fitzpatrick targeted Johnson for a third consecutive play, hitting the comeback for 16 yards after Johnson created separation with a nice swim move. Facing another 3rd down, Fitzpatrick targeted Donald Jones for the first time, just missing the connection in the front corner of the end zone. Certainly not the easiest of catches, it is one the Bills and Fitzpatrick need the 3rd year WR to make as it caromed off his hands and fell incomplete. The following drive, Fitzpatrick went play action on 2nd down, faking the hand off to C.J. Spiller before he did a nice job dropping his arm level to avoid the pressure on the outside and complete the sidearm toss on the screen to Spiller for 24 yards (the longest play of the night). Two plays later Fitzpatrick went back to play action, faking the hand off left before booting right and finding a wide-open Chandler in the flat for 23 yards. After a failed quick screen to T.J. Graham due to a poor block on the outside, Fitzpatrick nearly made that momentum-swinging mistake on 3rd down. Fitzpatrick's mind was made up pre-snap and locked on to Chandler just beyond the sticks on the quick out. Karlos Dansby was draped all over Chandler and had he went for the INT instead of just knocking the pass down, he had a clear lane to the end zone. Buffalo was forced to settle for another FG, but more importantly, avoided the red zone turnover. Fitzpatrick and the Bills again marched down the field the following drive, but did so with considerable help from the officiating crew and Miami CB Nolan Carroll. After a bad throw into traffic to Johnson fell incomplete, Fitzpatrick tried to hit a streaking Graham down the sideline. The pass wasn't even close to completion, but a 32-yard pass interference call on Carroll saved the drive. Fitzpatrick had his best play of the game two plays later, again turning pressure and a collapsing pocket into a positive with his feet instead of forcing a throw down field. DE Jared Odrick had the QB dead to rights in the backfield, but Fitzpatrick did his best Houdini impression, sneaking out and picking up 13 yards and the first down on the scramble. Fitzpatrick went right back at Carroll the following play and despite a really poor throw to Jones, was able to collect 15 more yards on the interference call. Fitzpatrick was caught staring Chandler down again on 3rd down, this time on a deep seam route, but didn't pull the trigger and was ultimately sacked, forcing another FG attempt. Fitzpatrick went back to Johnson to open the next drive, taking advantage of a sagging corner and hitting Johnson on the quick strike for 12 yards. Another penalty on Carroll after Jones worked the CB with a solid double move had the Bills driving again. But after picking up eight to Chandler over the middle, the drive stalled when Tashard Choice got a case of alligator arms and didn't extend on the short toss on the angle route, killing the drive and forcing the Bills' first punt of the night. Working the two-minute drill on the Bills final drive of the first half, Fitzpatrick opened the drive with a screen to Spiller for 13 yards. Fitzpatrick and Johnson again connected on a 3rd and long with another back shoulder throw, taking the drive down to the Dolphin four-yard line. Fitzpatrick tried to force his next throw to Jones across the middle, but threw it into too much traffic and a deflection nearly led to an INT. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick sent Chandler out wide all alone. The TE was locked into single coverage against the much smaller Rashad Jones, but was able to easily disrupt the quick slant, forcing a 4th FG in four red zone trips. After leading the Bills on four scoring drives in six attempts in the first half, Fitzpatrick was not able to get anything going in the 2nd half. The Bills took the opening drive to the Miami 36, but a tipped pass on 3rd down sent his attempt to Johnson sailing out of bounds, forcing a punt. The following drive was considerably worse, despite Fitzpatrick making a nice play on 1st down to scramble away from pressure and pick up three yards. 3rd down had Spiller running an underneath route and was left uncovered, but immediate pressure from an unblocked Cameron Wake left Fitzpatrick with no time and he was dropped for the sack, forcing a quick three and out. Miami ramped up the pressure on the following drive, again forcing two short throws underneath and pushing Buffalo to consecutive three and outs. After a Miami TD, Fitzpatrick needed to get the offense going the next drive as the lead had shrunk to five. Fitzpatrick went back to his favorite target/route, hitting Johnson on a back shoulder throw for 12 yards, picking up an important first down. However, the drive stalled as the Bills and Fitzpatrick went conservative, choosing the safe dump to Spiller in the flat for two yards on 3rd and long. Far from Fitzpatrick's best game and clearly missing one of his favorite targets in Fred Jackson, Fitzpatrick did what he needed to ensure the win. Most importantly, Fitzpatrick did not turn the ball over once, despite a couple questionable throws, never allowing the Miami defense to swing the field position (and momentum) for the struggling Dolphin offense. Fitzpatrick certainly didn't win the game, but again, that isn't what Buffalo needs from the QB. Behind a strong running game and a solid defensive effort, Fitzpatrick did not lose the game.

RB C.J. Spiller, Rush: 22 - 91 - 0, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (4 targets)

With Fred Jackson ruled out due to a concussion, C.J. Spiller stepped in to the lead role for the Bills' rushing attack on Thursday night and he did not disappoint despite the tough matchup. Four of Spiller's first five carries went between the tackles and all were longer than four yards. After picking up 24 yards on his first six carries, Buffalo play faked to Spiller before dumping it off to the RB on the screen. Always electric in space, Spiller took the short pass and exploded up field, not feeling contact until he was 24 yards down field and safety Reshad Jones was pushing him out of bounds. The catch was Spiller's longest play of the game, but was not his best. Later, taking the handoff on a draw, Spiller shot up field and picked up 20 yards for his longest run of the night. However, what happening in-between handoff and tackle sent reverbs throughout Ralph Wilson Stadium. Untouched through the hole, Spiller was at full speed almost immediately and as he has done all season, used a vicious jump cut to get outside an approaching tackler. Normally one to then use his speed to find the edge, Spiller cut back inside, again feigning another potential tackler. Spiller would use two more cuts, all between the hashes, in the midst of heavy traffic to pick up another ten yards. Curiously (or not for the accustomed Bills' fan) Spiller did not see another snap on the drive, despite the offense continuously stalling in the red zone all night. Apparently Gailey only needs play making on the other side of the 20-yard line. Spiller just missed breaking a long TD run on the Bills' opening drive of the 2nd half taking the carry up the middle and hitting the 2nd level at full speed before Jones and fellow safety Chris Clemons combined to bring the RB down just before liftoff. Spiller's day wouldn't be complete without making at least one tackler look bad and on the Bills' final drive he managed to fulfill that requirement. A designed run up the middle, Spiller was forced to adjust on the fly as Karlos Dansby shot through the gap untouched. Now the norm, Spiller gave the LB a slight hesitation, freezing Dansby before bouncing the run outside and turning on the jets for a five-yard gain, leaving a lunging Dansby (and four-yard loss) flailing behind him. By his own admission, Spiller struggled with his fitness just a bit, but a short week and a much larger workload understandably took its toll. And just like the rest of the offense, Spiller missed an effective spell in the injured Jackson as Choice was far from a suitable replacement. Spiller was targeted four times in the passing game (2nd on the team), catching three, including the aforementioned 24-yard screen pass.

RB Tashard Choice, Rush: 6 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)

Choice was given six carries, picking up 14 yards on the ground on Thursday. It was clear Gailey hoped to use Choice as a Fred Jackson light, picking up the tough yards and spelling Spiller as he worked to get accustomed to the heavier workload. However, Choice was anything but, as he was far more disappointing than anything else (a boxed Chablis in place of a fine Italian Chianti if you will). After consecutive runs had Buffalo looking at a 3rd and very short, Choice replaced Spiller and was stuffed at line of scrimmage trying to pick up the first down via the wildcat on the Bills first offensive drive. Later it was Choice's anti-Inspector Gadget arms on a 3rd and short pass that killed another drive. Working across the middle, Choice did not even make an attempt to extend for the pass as it flew by, despite it being well within his reach. Choice did have one catch, however, but like his first run it went for zero yards.

WR Steve Johnson, Rec: 6 - 79 - 0 (9 targets)

After taking a back seat to fellow WR the week prior, Johnson was the passing offense, leading the Bills' passing offense in every receiving category on Thursday night. Getting a full complement of targets in nine, Johnson was able to catch six for 79 yards. Easily one of the league's best route runners, Johnson had his way with the Dolphin's defensive backfield. Johnson first catch came on 3rd down, picking up 15 yards on the deep in. Johnson had his longest catch the very next play, planting a vicious swim move on Sean Smith to create the necessary space for the 16-yard comeback. Johnson picked up an easy 12 yards on his next catch, opening up on the snap and catching the quick strike as the coverage was sitting 10 yards off the line. Johnson just missed a TD on his next catch, another back shoulder throw. Johnson did a nice job using his body to box Smith out, but couldn't break the tackle four yards short of the end zone. Fitzpatrick went back to Johnson in the end zone two plays later, but a poor throw and an interfering Smith prevented the connection. Johnson showed some rare frustration on the play, clearly upset and demonstratively calling for the flag. Johnson utilized the swim move more one time in the 2nd half, picking up nine yards before picking up 13 on his final catch of the night on another back shoulder throw.

WR Donald Jones, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (5 targets)

Jones was second on the team with five targets, but was only able to muster two catches for a disappointing 11 yards. Jones nearly made a nice catch in the end zone on the Bills' first scoring drive, but the throw was slightly off line and Jones was unable to maneuver his body into position to make the catch. The toss hit Jones' hands, but it would have been a tremendous catch had he been able to haul it in. Jones joined in on the Carroll penalty party, working a nifty double move on the DB, but Carroll knocked Jones off his route for the illegal contact penalty. Fitzpatrick tried to hit Jones on the Bills' final drive of the first half, but he was well covered and the forced throw nearly ended disastrously in an INT. Jones' first catch didn't come until the opening drive of the 2nd half, and only picked up eight yards. Jones 2nd catch was only noteworthy in that he fumbled the ball, but was saved by center Eric Wood as he trailed the play. A disappointing night for Jones, especially considering his prior two weeks and the juicy matchup, but the game script combined with an offense out of rhythm never called for much else from Jones.

WR T.J. Graham, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (2 targets)

Graham was far from productive on Thursday night, only picking up five yards on two catches. However, he did draw a pass interference call on Nick Carroll, picking up 31 yards via the penalty. Outside of the penalty, Graham (like the rest of the passing offense outside of Johnson) was non-existent.

WR Dorin Dickerson, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)

Dickerson had one catch on Thursday night, a four-yard screen that needed considerably more space to be successful. Dickerson slipped into the flat, but the TE is far from explosive and Miami was able to blow the play up rather quickly.

TE Scott Chandler, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (4 targets)

Chandler received four targets on Thursday, catching two for 30 yards with a long of 22 yards. Working off the play fake, Chandler worked out in to the flat and was left uncovered, picking up 22 yards on the play. Chandler picked up eight more yards on a quick shot over the middle for his 2nd and final catch. Chandler did have one target in the red zone, but was nowhere near the end zone. Later working up the seam, Fitzpatrick had his eyes again on Chandler in the red zone, but the coverage was solid, ultimately forcing a sack on the play.