Top 3 things we learned from Bills vs. Dolphins | Week 3

Written by on September 26, 2022

The Bills knew they were going into Sunday’s game supremely shorthanded missing four starters on defense as well as their starting center on offense. But it didn’t impact their effort and mettle in oppressively hot conditions in Miami on Sunday.

The steamy and humid conditions sapped the roster of any depth it had left as players left the game due to heat exhaustion or an injury as the game neared halftime.

Right tackle Spencer Brown was struggling with heat illness and exited the game in the first half as well with David Quessenberry coming on for him. TE Dawson Knox and WR Isaiah McKenzie also succumbed to the heat, though McKenzie was able to return to the game.

“It was so hot,” said McKenzie, a south Florida native. “It was hot the whole game. I started throwing up, so I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m going to just take a breather.’ So, I came out and had to come back to the locker room and get an IV. I thought was used to this just coming from Miami, but I guess I’m more familiar with Buffalo at this moment.”

Fellow south Florida native Greg Rousseau confirmed McKenzie’s assessment of the weather.

“It was up there like top two top three hottest I’d say,” said Rousseau who played his college ball in the same stadium for the University of Miami. “We had a real hot game against Georgia Tech, but even in college football, you don’t always kick off at 1 pm. You get like four o’clock kick off. Sometimes it’s a night game. Being out there at 1pm is different.”

In addition to the players having to retire from the heat, there were other players leaving the game with injuries. WR Jake Kumerow sustained an ankle injury after making a reception in the first half and could not return to the game leaving Buffalo with just four receivers. Rookie CB Christian Benford sustained a hand injury, and though he returned to the game he could only play on special teams. It forced undrafted rookie practice squad call up Ja’Marcus Ingram to play at corner.

Come the second half the situation only got worse. On Buffalo’s 20-play field goal drive in the third quarter Buffalo would also lose RG Ryan Bates to a head injury. In the latter stages of the fourth quarter, backup C Greg Van Roten had to be replaced by Greg Mancz.

Several other players on offense sustained muscle cramps, as the unit was on the field for 90 plays and had to step out briefly and then return to the game. But none of Sean McDermott’s men who took the field ever gave up.

“I told them in the locker room after the game… I didn’t even bring them up for a huddle because they all couldn’t move, that that was a heck of an effort,” said McDermott. “You never want to come up short. There are no ribbons for second place, and they know that. And so, we go back, we learn from this, and I think we’ll learn things that were really good about this game. One of those is the guts and heart and the intangibles of our football team. And I think we’ve learned some things that weren’t very good, which led to the result. We just didn’t take care of the ball enough and come up with some takeaways but again, I liked the way we fought in all three phases until the end.”

What made the result so difficult to take was Buffalo won in just about every statistical category of the game. They outgained Miami by more than a 2:1 margin with 497 total yards to the Dolphins 212.

Their offense was almost twice as effective converting third downs, but the difference in the game came in the red zone where Miami went a perfect 3-for-3 and the Bills went 2-for-4 in the two-point loss.

“That’s sometimes the way the business goes,” said Josh Allen, who threw for 400 yards on the day and a pair of touchdowns. “Guys go down. We only dressed so many guys. Guys have got to step up. I’m proud of the guys that played, obviously, injuries you hate to see him happen. You’d love to get them back as soon as possible and we’ll figure that out later, but our guys stepped up. I was proud of how our team played. We obviously didn’t make enough plays on the offensive side of the football. We had a couple that I want back obviously so lots to learn from in this one but overall proud of our guys and how they battled.”

“This team’s got no quit in us” | Bills players and coaches stay confident following loss

Amid the tough 21-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins, head coach Sean McDermott and the Bills locker room remain confident after the resilience they showed between the team’s injuries sustained prior to and during Sunday’s game — and 100 degrees-plus field temperates in Miami.

Looking past the final score and their first loss of the season, the Bills still had plenty of positive takeaways from Sunday’s game.

Bills locker room remains confident and encouraged

The limited depth the Bills had in certain positions throughout the game mixed with the Miami heat presented a tough challenge to the Bills’ sidelines on Sunday afternoon. But even though they didn’t come away with the outcome they were hoping for, the locker room remains confident in what the team is capable of accomplishing this season.

“I think this game was very encouraging from the standpoint of, this team’s got no quit in us,” tight end Dawson Knox said. “There were guys that were jumping on the offensive line playing, playing positions they never played. Some guys were getting their first start on our defense, and it just shows that we got guys that are ready to go. They’re going to jump up, play to the best of their abilities, and give us their best effort.”

After calling on multiple players throughout the game to step in at all different positions, head coach Sean McDermott shared how proud he was of the guys for the battle and effort they put forth against the Dolphins.

“Got a lot of confidence in the guys in this room, a lot of confidence,” McDermott said.

And the confidence in the guys who stepped into these new roles wasn’t just noticed by the head coach.

“It’s super encouraging, as a teammate, to see guys that are coming off the bench playing positions they’ve never played, given us their best effort,” Knox said. “Some of those guys are back here getting IVs because they busted their tail all game doing something they’ve never done before.”

Linebacker Von Miller shared that it’s games like this that really bring a team together.

“In Buffalo, that’s all we have is football,” Miller said. “That’s all we care about is football and winning games and a loss like this early in games is good medicine. Adversity like this truly reveals character and we have a team full of tough guys.”

“This is all just adversity and I’m excited to see how we respond. Real men respond to things like this and I’m excited to see how we respond.”

The team also acknowledged that it’s early on in the season and this was just one game, further boosting everybody’s eagerness to respond accordingly next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens.

“We’ll learn from this one tomorrow, take it on the chin, and prepare for next week,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “That’s all we can do. We can move forward. We’re 2-1. I’d like to be 3-0. But 2-1, we can still accomplish everything we want to accomplish.”

Like many of their teammates and coaches, Dawson Knox and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie have faith in this resilient team to overcome and preserve from Sunday’s loss.

“We didn’t play our best football, but we’re going to put our best foot forward, watch this film, and get better for next week,” McKenzie said.

“There’s so much football ahead of us,” Knox said. “I think this can be a great focal point for us moving forward just to see the fight that we have in us.”

Allen and Tagovailoa’s performances

QB Josh Allen put up record-breaking numbers in the hard-fought battle against QB Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.

Here’s a breakdown of the two quarterbacks’ stats from Sunday afternoon:


400 passing yards, 42/63 for completions
47 rushing yards
2 passing TDs


186 passing yards, 13/18 for completions
1 passing TD
0 rushing yards

Between all offensive position groups, Allen worked with every option he had on the field which resulted in 11 Bills players having a reception on the day, setting a new club-single game record.

“I thought Josh and the back did a good job getting on the same page early,” McDermott said. “They were doing some things blitz-wise, which we expected, and some dropout as well. I thought they handled it at times fairly well, but other times we can grow from it.”

Allen also set team records for:

Most pass attempts (63)
Most completions (42)
Most 400-yard passing games in a career (3)

OC Ken Dorsey slams headset, tablet after Buffalo Bills drop first game

MIAMI — The Bills’ first loss of the season featured many twists and turns, and ultimately, Buffalo fell to the division rival Dolphins despite finishing with 90 offensive plays and more than doubling Miami’s time of possession (40:40 to 19:20).

With the Bills’ final drive falling short as time expired after quarterback Josh Allen passed to Isaiah McKenzie, when the wide receiver appeared to have time to get out of bounds to stop the clock, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey was shown on the CBS broadcast reacting in frustration, slamming his headset, hat and tablet into the desk and crumpling the papers around him. Allen also slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration after the 21-19 loss.

“I was trying to get out of bounds. I was also trying to get yards,” McKenzie said. “I knew [Buffalo place-kicker Tyler Bass’] range, so I was trying to get out of bounds but also get up the field. I tried to get out of bounds. There was nine seconds left, and I was trying to get to the hash — and I kind of got bumped by going to the ref, and it just went down from there. If I could take it back, I would probably just go up field, get down, put it on the hash myself and live to fight another down.”

The Bills had many missed opportunities throughout the game, including a contested pass to wideout Gabe Davis in the end zone and a potential pick-six by linebacker Matt Milano that he was unable to haul in.

“I trust Gabe in those situations,” Allen said of the play to Davis. “Those are ones we come down with nine out of 10 times. That was the 10th time, I guess. I’ve got no loss in faith in him and what he’s able to do and his capabilities in this game.”–Week-3-09-26

The Dolphins possessed the ball for only 7:55 in the second half, and they still came away with a win. Miami’s 19:20 time of possession was the lowest in a win since the 2014 season, when the New England Patriots beat the New York Jets in Week 7 with 19:06.

“We’ve got to finish drives,” Allen said. “I think third down we were all right. Red zone we weren’t very good. We’ve got to find a way to get it in the end zone there. We really beat ourselves tonight. Credit to them; they had a really good game plan. They came out and did what they had to do.

“There’s obviously plays we want back, and that’s going to happen over the course of every single game, this one especially.”

Dorsey played college football at Miami, posting a 38-2 record as a starting quarterback. This was his first game as an NFL offensive coordinator in Miami. His determined nature and passion are often mentioned by players and coaches when discussing Dorsey.

“He’s such a competitive guy,” Buffalo defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “He wants to win every situation. … I think our players seem like they feed off of it. I know we were in training camp, and even when we were competing against each other in OTAs, I could sense the offense really having that same type of intensity that Kenny kind of coaches with; but yet, he is a guy who’s able to reign it back when he needs to and take it in a different direction, to encourage players at the same time.”

The Bills went into the game down six starters due to injury, and seven more players suffered injuries during the contest, which saw multiple Buffalo players dealing with heat-related issues.

“At halftime, I even threw up,” McKenzie said. “I’m like, I’m hot, and I started cramping. I came in and got an IV and things like that. And we were just fighting.”

While Allen took a face mask or a helmet to what appeared to be his right hand on the sideline and entered the X-ray room at Hard Rock Stadium, he said after the game he was “fine.”

“[Allen’s] good,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott added.

Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields acknowledges ‘terrible’ performance after posting career-worst 27.7 passer rating in win

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears escaped Week 3 with a 23-20 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, thanks in large part to a late interception by linebacker Roquan Smith that set up Cairo Santos’ game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.

But quarterback Justin Fields continued to struggle.

After tallying 48 net passing yards in a loss at Green Bay in Week 2, he completed just 8 of 17 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions against Houston. He also fumbled twice and tallied a 27.7 passer rating, the lowest of his NFL career.

Following the game, Fields offered a harsh assessment of his performance.

“Straight up, I just played — I don’t want to say the A-word, but I played like trash,” Fields said. “Really just got to be better.”

Fields said he was most upset by his two interceptions and planned to begin the process of correcting his mistakes immediately.

“I’m going to go see the film tonight. I played terrible,” he said. “See what I could have done better and get better.”

Fields’ first interception came with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter when he tried to connect with Cole Kmet on a seam route and missed the tight end, whom he said was wide open. The second interception happened in the third quarter and was the byproduct of what Fields described as a poor decision coupled with a poor throw to wide receiver Darnell Mooney with three defenders around him.

“I got pressure, saw Cover 2, (the middle linebacker) running with Darnell,” Fields said. “When I saw that, I got hit while I was throwing, so next time I’ve got to take the check-down. So that’s one thing that I’m going to work on this week: getting pressure — boom — check down.”

The Bears attempted only six passes in the second half and leaned heavily on their run game while Fields struggled. Khalil Herbert, who finished with 20 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns in place of an injured David Montgomery, shouldered the load for a run game that eclipsed 281 yards.

Chicago’s offense sought more balance after a paltry outing against the Packers and struggled to move the ball effectively with its passing game.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus addressed Fields’ shortcomings postgame and how the team can continue to instill confidence in his its young quarterback.

“I think when you are working with a young quarterback in a new offense, I think the people around him have to be solid,” Eberflus said. “So that’s important for us, meaning that the protection has to be good, the run game has to be good, the defense has to be really good and special teams, we’ve got to be awesome.

“What you do is you support that quarterback while he’s growing. And while he’s going through this, and there’s going to be good and there’s going to be things that he has to improve on, but that’s on the whole football team. The whole football team is like that.”

Despite Fields’ struggles, the Bears still were able to pull off a win to improve to 2-1. Fields pointed to the way he fought in Week 3 as a positive and emphasized his desire to win by any means necessary.

“After two picks, the score is 20-20,” Fields said. “The picks are not going to do anything for me now. It’s like at that point, I’m going to do whatever I can to help us win the game. Of course, I want to play better but — I can’t be out here sulking, this and that. Got to win the game.”

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh expecting QB Zach Wilson back in Week 4, but doctors have final say

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After sitting out three games with a knee injury, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is poised to return next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I’m expecting [him back], but until the doctors say so, I’m just going to say he’s being evaluated,” coach Robert Saleh said Sunday after a 27-12 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium.

Once Wilson is cleared — that could be determined as early as Monday — he will go back to his role as the starter. Saleh has said repeatedly that Wilson, drafted second overall in 2021, will play as soon as he’s healthy. The coach’s position hasn’t changed, a source said.

There might have been a mini-controversy if backup Joe Flacco had remained hot, but that certainly wasn’t the case Sunday. He threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and took four sacks in a lackluster performance by the entire offense, which failed to score a touchdown against the Bengals.

A week earlier, Flacco, 37, delivered one of the best games of his career, throwing four touchdowns to lead the Jets to a miracle comeback win against the Cleveland Browns. Now he’s heading back to the bench.

“We’ll see. You guys know more than I do,” Flacco said. “I’m going to keep my head down and keep working, doing all I can for this team in whatever role that may be.”

Wilson, who suffered a meniscus tear and bone bruise in his right knee in the preseason opener, underwent arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 16. The Jets said he’d be back for Week 4 at the earliest. Adhering to that timetable, Wilson returned to limited practice two weeks ago, beginning a gradual ramp-up that should culminate with him practicing fully on Wednesday. Before Sunday’s game, Wilson was seen in the pregame warm-ups, throwing and moving well with no sleeve on his surgically repaired knee.

The Jets could use a spark. After scoring two touchdowns in the final two minutes of their Cleveland comeback, they mostly sputtered against the Bengals. The home crowd booed in the second half and chanted for Mike White, the Jets’ third-stringer who was active.

Asked whether he considered an in-game change, Saleh said simply, “No.”

Flacco completed 28 of 52 passes for 285 yards, giving him 155 pass attempts in three games. He has five touchdown passes, three interceptions, 901 passing yards and a meager 39.6 QBR. The Jets (1-2) played from behind in each of the first three games and failed to establish a consistent ground game, putting pressure on Flacco.

The pass protection also broke down against the Bengals. Left tackle George Fant allowed two sacks and left an aggravation to his surgically repaired knee. He was replaced by Conor McDermott, who made his 2022 debut and allowed a sack.

“Fans want to see you win football games,” said Flacco, addressing the boos. “You get the frustration, but it was a two-score game. If we put one in the end zone there … we have more important things to worry about than listening to that stuff.”

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