First quarter: Spirit of giving
The Miami Dolphins have not been good at taking away the football this season, but the Buffalo Bills have been good at giving it way.
The latter trend held up in the first quarter, as Bills receiver Stevie Johnson stopped a promising Buffalo drive with a fumble at the Miami 17 after a short slant reception. Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith did a good job of punching the ball out.
It was the 14th fumble of the season for the Bills. Buffalo entered the game tied for the fifth most fumbles in the league. Miami entered the game with only 12 takeaways, tied for second fewest in the league.
Key plays: Reggie Bush caught a short pass from Ryan Tannehill and scored on a 17-yard play with 2:54 left. ... Buffalo’s Alex Carrington blocked a 46-yard field-goal try.
Key injury: Bills tight end Scott Chandler went out for good with a knee injury after a 25-yard catch 7:01 into the game.
Fair-weather fans: Sun Life Stadium had plenty of empty orange seats at kickoff. The Dolphins are playing to only 77 percent capacity in their 76,100-seat stadium. There were a mere 53,667 in house for last week’s game versus Jacksonville.
Second quarter: An easy read
What do you know? The Miami Dolphins watched the video of the Bills’ loss to Seattle last week.
The Bills’ defense got embarrassed by Seattle’s basic read-option running plays. The quarterback takes a shotgun snap, reads the defense, and either hands off to the running back up the middle or keeps it for a run off tackle.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill ran the read option for a 31-yard gain around right end that set up the Dolphins for their second touchdown. Bills linebacker Bryan Scott missed a tackle early on the run down to the Buffalo 2. Two plays later, Reggie Bush ran in for a 1-yard TD.
Tannehill rumbled for 30 yards on the read-option last week against Jacksonville.
Key plays: The Bills got a 42-yard field goal from Rian Lindell. ... Shawn Powell hit two poor punts, but they didn’t cost the Bills points.
Second-guess: Officials ruled Stevie Johnson didn’t complete a catch into the end zone that would have been a 23-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a bad call. Johnson clearly had possession before he reached the ball over the goal line.
Third quarter: Eye-catching
Reggie Bush has been the most productive receiving running back in the NFL since he entered the league in 2006.
He showed off his pass-catching skills in the third quarter with a nifty 12-yard touchdown reception on the left side of the end zone. It put Miami ahead, 21-3, with 8:32 left in the quarter.
Bush, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Southern California, has 370 catches in seven seasons. Next closest among running backs over that span is St. Louis’ Steven Jackson with 338.
Bush made a good over-the-shoulder catch behind Aaron Williams and Nick Barnett.
“We talked all week about going out there and dominating the line of scrimmage, and I thought our offensive line did a great job of that today,” Bush said.
Mood killer: Any chance the Bills had to gain some momentum was killed when Dorin Dickerson fumbled on Buffalo’s opening possession of the quarter. Miami took over on its 36.
Key play: Miami also got a 45-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding to go ahead, 24-3.
Fourth quarter: Bait and pick
Miami’s defense is a bad matchup for the Bills’ offense. The Bills have trouble with Miami’s physical front seven, and the Bills don’t make big plays downfield against the Dolphins’ secondary.
So it has gone for the last five seasons. Since 2008, the Bills have just 11 offensive touchdowns in 10 games against Miami. The Dolphins are 7-3 against the Bills in that span.
The Dolphins kept the Bills out of the end zone at the end of the game. Buffalo had moved to the Miami 1 with 1:20 left when safety Reshad Jones read a quick Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to the left and intercepted the ball at the line of scrimmage. It was Jones’ fifth interception of the season.
“He baited him right into it,” Miami linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “If you see a loaded box, he’s going to come out and throw a smoke route, a quick slant. He threw it right to him. He made a play on the ball. It’s something he’s been doing every day in practice.”
Key plays: Brad Smith scored on a 2-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to pull Buffalo within 24-10 with 8:52 left.