They controlled their own destiny. Now, they need some help.
If someone had told me before the Dolphins met the Bills on Sunday that Buffalo would walk away with a 19-0 shutout win and cause all kinds of issues for a Dolphins team that looked all but locked to at least tie Baltimore for the final playoff spot, I would have just laughed.
But Buffalo came into Sunday’s game and did just that.
According to ESPN.com, the Dolphins had major issues dealing with the Bills pass rush all day long.
The Dolphins (8-7) had a three-game winning streak snapped and find themselves in a convoluted mix of four teams -- Baltimore (8-7), San Diego (8-7) and Pittsburgh (7-8) -- competing for the AFC's final playoff spot. Miami needs help while closing at home against the Jets next weekend.
Here are five things we learned about this game.
Line play is critical
As ESPN.com stated, “The patchwork offensive line -- the Dolphins' season-long weakness -- gave up a season-worst seven sacks and was part of a unit that managed just 103 yards and six first downs against an AFC East rival that had little to play for after being eliminated from playoff contention a week earlier.”
While the line was crying in their stance, the Bills were rejoicing in their pass rush. The Bills put Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on his back seven times during the game. It is usually the other way around, but Buffalo found a way to get to the quarterback and apply pressure all day long.
Reversal of fortune
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has played better ball during the three-game winning streak the Dolphins have experienced, but Sunday may have been his worst outing of his career. The second year player threw for 82 yards and backup quarterback Matt Moore threw two interceptions.
Thad Lewis, who grew up in Miami, finished 15 of 25 for 193 yards and an interception. He improved to 2-2 this season, with both wins coming against the Dolphins.
Miami crossed midfield only three times, converted just two of 14 third-down chances, and managed just six first downs, including two in the second half. Every series run by this team was thwarted by Buffalo - a team that had an answer for everything all day.
A wing and a prayer
Now that the Dolphins lost, they will need help from other teams in the AFC. Most notably, Miami needs Baltimore to lose next week. The best Miami can do is secure the sixth and final playoff seed.