The Buffalo Bills were so comprehensively good in their first two wins that it was easy to forget how much fun it is to watch Josh Allen direct that offense with the game on the line late in the fourth. On an oppressively hot Miami field in Week 3, the Bills QB finally got that opportunity, first with a 21-17 deficit midway through the final quarter and then again down just two after an absurd safety. But miraculously, even as the stage was perfectly set for a dramatic comeback, the Dolphins made the stops at just the right moments and won, 21-19, to become the only undefeated team in the AFC.
The pair of 2-0 teams stayed neck and neck into a 14-14 halftime, and despite a concussion scare for Tua Tagovailoa near the two-minute warning, ‘Fins backup Teddy Bridgewater only threw a couple of passes before their starter returned at the beginning of the third. Statistically, Buffalo dominated this game, outgaining Miami 497-212 while holding the ball for over 40 minutes. But a sack-fumble (the only turnover of the game), a 20-play drive that ended in just three points, and another drive that finished with a 38-yard miss all kept the Dolphins in it even with relatively little offensive effort. And with 10 minutes to go in the game, Chase Edmonds ran it in from three yards out to boost Miami into a 21-17 lead.
This was where Allen seemingly just turned it on, masterfully orchestrating a slow, methodical drive that drained the clock with short gains until, perhaps, the Bills would be able to go ahead. He bailed his team out of a 2nd-and-26 with a couple of completions, spread the ball to anyone with a Bills jersey (11 of them caught passes on the day), and even danced his way into the red zone on 3rd-and-5.
But when the Bills got it down to the Miami two, enjoying first-and-goal with only two-and-a-half minutes remaining, the magic evaporated. The line held up on a Devin Singletary run, then an Allen keeper. On third down, Allen dropped back, had plenty of time, but couldn’t find an open man. And on fourth, he just looked mortal.
That might have done it for the Bills, but they still had a couple of timeouts, and the Dolphins were still backed up against their own end zone, and so there were 93 whole seconds left on the clock when Thomas Morstead and the special teams unit shot themselves in the butt.
This mortifying butt punt gave Allen the ball back with plenty of time to get into field goal range. And it started well! The Bills drove the ball all the way to the Miami 43 with 27 seconds left, then got stymied by a holding call to go back past midfield. But on the game’s final play, which really did not need to be the final play, some incredible agility and quick-thinking from Allen was foiled by Isaiah McKenzie’s refusal to either go down or go out of bounds. Either of those could have allowed the Bills a kick for the win, or at least one more play.
McKenzie’s worst-of-both-worlds approach was not well received by the man upstairs.
But the Dolphins are pretty damn happy! Facing a lot of folks’ Super Bowl favorites, they got heavily outgained and barely held the ball in the second half but nevertheless managed to take the lone seat at the top of their conference. Those Bills mistakes really saved their butts.