Preview: Dolphins take on Bills in season-ending matchup of teams out of playoff contention
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Josh Allen has unfinished business he’d like to attend to before the rookie quarterback’s season comes to a close this weekend.
Specifically, Allen is still stung by how he came oh-so-close to beating AFC East rival Miami in his first meeting, a 21-17 loss for Buffalo four weeks ago.
“I relived it a few times. It’s one of those plays where it (stinks),” Allen said.
He’s referring to how his pass on fourth-and-11 from Miami’s 30 fell just out of the reach of tight end Charles Clay at the goal line in the final minute.
“I look back at it and I should’ve made a better throw,” Allen added. “I definitely think we’re a better team since that game, and it’s time to go back out on Sunday and kind of prove it.”
For the young, rebuilding Bills, they have an opportunity to win four of the final seven and show they’re trending in the right direction.
The Dolphins, meantime, are preparing to enter an offseason of uncertainty.
Questions are raised over the status of coach Adam Gase and vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum. And it’s unclear whether quarterback Ryan Tannehill will return for an eighth season.
“What’s the good of wondering and pondering and wasting time thinking about it,” said Tannehill, who has a 5-5 record and missed five starts with an injured right throwing shoulder. “It’s out of my control right now. I’m focused on winning this one game in Buffalo.”
Tannehill’s production has essentially flat-lined this season, and he hasn’t topped 300 yards passing since Sept. 25, 2016, which came before he missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury.
Not all the blame falls on Tannehill’s shoulders. The Dolphins’ defense has allowed 400 yards in a game nine times this season, including 415 to Buffalo.
And this is a team that’s been wildly unpredictable. Though they count wins against division leaders such as New England and Chicago, the Dolphins have also lost to last-place teams such as Cincinnati, Detroit and Jacksonville.
“I think we’ve just been so all over the place,” Gase said. “One game we’ll do well on offense, and then we’ll just be nonexistent one game.”
The Dolphins are the only division rival Allen will face twice this season after he missed four games with a sprained right throwing elbow. The rookie has a 4-6 record, and lost all three starts against AFC East foes.
Against Miami, Allen finished 18 of 33 for 231 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had 135 yards rushing , the most by a Bills quarterback.
NO LOVE LOST
Bills defensive lineman Jordan Phillips continues to carry a grudge against the Dolphins for cutting him in Week 5 following his angry outburst on the sideline during a 38-7 loss at New England.
Before Buffalo’s first meeting against Miami, Phillips said: “Most people that leave Miami, that’s really when their career gets started.”
This week, Phillips said he’s not surprised by the uncertainty in Miami.
“I feel like I got out of there in the perfect time,” he said. “It’s kind of imploding. Yeah, I’m happy to be a Bill.”
The Dolphins have the road to blame for their struggles. Though 6-2 at home, Miami is 1-6 on the road, where it’s been outscored 218-120. The losses include blowing double-digit fourth-quarter leads at Cincinnati and at Indianapolis.
The Dolphins have lost 11 of their past 12 away games, and five of their past six games at Buffalo, with the lone win in overtime in 2016.
Miami has run the ball well but not enough. Its average of 4.7 yards is the franchise’s best since the 1973 Super Bowl championship season, and ranks seventh in the NFL. But the Dolphins are 25th with 23 carries per game and have just seven touchdowns rushing. Only San Francisco has scored fewer (6).
Bills running back LeSean McCoy is in jeopardy of finishing with his fewest yards rushing in a season. He has 488, 149 shy of his career low set during McCoy’s rookie season with the 2009 Philadelphia Eagles.
McCoy has topped 100 yards just once (113 in 41-10 win over Jets on Nov. 11), and managed 9 yards on six carries in a 24-12 loss at New England last week. McCoy was also forced to sit out the first play against the Patriots for an unspecified disciplinary reason.
“That’s between LeSean and myself,” coach Sean McDermott said. “I appreciate him being accountable, I really do. And we’ve moved on.”