By David McDonnell
Okay, Okay, I know what’s coming.
Wasn’t I the one that said I couldn’t see any way the Buffalo Bills would lose down in Miami? That a defence that couldn’t lay a glove on Lamar Jackson in Week 2, wouldn’t fare any better against a better quarterback in Josh Allen?
Well, the Dolphins certainly served me up a slice of humble pie, after their defence won a highly- anticipated AFC East divisional match-up that didn’t disappoint and was high on the physicality that most football fans enjoy.
I’ll give credit where credit is due, because the Superbowl favourite Bills had possession of the ball for over 40 minutes in the Miami heat, more than twice that of their opponents. In all, the Dolphins defence faced 90 plays in the game and managed to curtail the highly-rated Allen.
Key to this victory was the Miami Dolphins’ blitz. No team had blitzed more in the opening two weeks than Miami and continually they came up with key stops in the second half to get Buffalo off the field.
The scores were tied 14-14 at the break. Devin Singletary ran in on fourth down. Soon after Jevon Holland dispossessed Allen in the tackle and Melvin Ingram recovered to give Miami a short field. Chase Edmonds responded for the Dolphins before Allen then found Isaiah McKenzie with a lobbed pass for an easy score.
Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa matched this when he found wide receiver River Cracraft with an accurate dart in the endzone for the second consecutive week.
On his next possession came a notable incident in the contest. Tua was pushed late and seemed to bang his head off the ground. When he stood up, his body took a wobble and he stumbled with what looked like an obvious concussion. When he went for a head injury assessment, most presumed he was done for the day.
His replacement Teddy Bridgewater was ushered in but at the start of the second half Tua returned to take his place under centre. The Dolphins have since stated that his stumble was due to a back injury and the Players’ Association are looking into this incident to see if the concussion protocol was followed correctly.
Back to the game and on the last play of the first half, within field goal range, Josh Allen lost control of the ball on the snap so he couldn’t spike the ball to stop the clock and time ran out on the half.
Miami took the lead for the first time in the contest, when Chase Edmonds made his way over from two yards in the fourth quarter to give the home side a 17-21 lead. Buffalo managed to drive their way to their opponents one-yard line with two minutes remaining but the Dolphins defence held them out on all four downs.
It left Miami camped outside their own goal line and four plays later came undoubtedly the most memorable play of the game.
Punter Tommy Morestead, instead of kicking the ball down the field, somehow managed to kick it against the rear end of a teammate causing the ball to fly high into the air and over the rear end of the pitch for a safety.
It left the scores 19-21 with Allen getting the ball back for a final drive needing only a field goal to win the contest.
On second down from the 53, Allen managed to slip away from a few would-be tacklers and found McKenzie who brought the ball to field goal range with 12 seconds left. However, by the time the referee had placed the ball, the Bills didn’t have enough time to snap the ball much to the frustration of their offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, who I can guess didn’t seem best pleased with the clock management of his charges.
The Dolphins are now the only team in the AFC with three wins from three, which shows, in my opinion, the wonderful competitiveness of the NFL.
In the NFC, only the Philadelphia Eagles have a 3-0 start after they barnstormed the Washington Commanders. This win was also led by their defence as Washington didn’t get a first down in seven first-half possessions, punting six times and coughing up an interception. At the break, the Eagles led 24-0 with Jalen Hurts finding Dallas Goedert, AJ Brown and Devontae Smith for scores for a lead which was never threatened.
Surprise Surprise, Matty Ice is Back!!!
The most surprising result on Sunday came when the Kansas City Chiefs were handed their first loss of the season by the Indianapolis Colts. It was a day when the Chiefs were punished for a number of self-inflicted errors and these indiscretions cost them the game.
They must have known they were going to be in for a tough day when rookie Skyy Moore dropped a punt on what would have been their first possession. It left the Colts with a short field and Matt Ryan found tight-end Jelani Woods for a touchdown with the first catch of his rookie career.
Kansas responded well with Patrick Mahommes finding Travis Kelce, before a Clyde Edwards-Helaire TD saw them into a 14-10 lead.
On half-time Mahommes got into a touchline disagreement with his offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, being overtly displeased that his coach decided to go into the locker room instead of going for it from their own half on third and 19. It perhaps showed the frustration that the Chiefs displayed during the contest and this became more obvious in the second half.
The Chiefs had a chance to extend their lead to seven with a field goal when a trick-play was poorly executed. On their next attack they decided to go for the kick and missed from 34 yards.
It gave Colts QB Matt Ryan possession of the ball with 8.38 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Eight minutes and fifteen plays later, the Colts were up to the 12-yard line and ‘Matty Ice,’ it’s been a while since that moniker was in vogue, found Woods once again for the winning touchdown with 24 seconds left on the clock.
It was Woods’ second catch of his career and his second touchdown of the contest.
Notably on that last drive, the Chiefs had sacked Matt Ryan on third down but their defensive lineman Chris Jones was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for yapping away in Ryan’s face. This incident resulted in a 15-yard penalty and a new set of downs that contributed to the result, which sees the Colts with an unlikely record of 1-1-1 after three games.
More Late Drama
There was late drama in a number of other games.
The Minasoata Vikings had a come-from-behind win against Detroit. The Lions are fast becoming everyone’s second favourite team after an entertaining Hard Knocks series this year, and they took a 14-0 lead with touchdowns from Jamaal Willaims and TJ Hockensen.
By half time, the scores were level when Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen to continue his 33rd game with a touchdown, the longest active streak by a QB in the NFL. Running-back Dalvin Cook rushed to tie the game 14-14 at the half.
When Jamal Williams ran in for his second score and a 10-point lead, it seemed the Lions would have the day before his counterpart Alexander Mattison reduced the margin to three. With 45 seconds left on the clock, Cousins found wide receiver KJ Osbourne much to the delight of the home supporters.
There was another late win in Chicago as the Bears welcomed their former coach Lovie Smith and his Texans to Soldier Field.
With the game tied at 20-20 came the most significant play of the game when linebacker Roquan Smith intercepted David Mills in the final minute to set up the Bears inside field goal range. It topped off an excellent display for Smith who also had 16 tackles on the day. Carlos Santos stepped up and kicked between the posts.
In Tampa Bay, Tom Brady threatened to bring his duel with Aaron Rodgers to overtime in a game dominated by two impressive defences.
Green Bay had a lead when Rodgers found rookie Romeo Dobbs and Adam Lezard for TDs in the first half. The game stayed at 14-6 until the last minute when Brady led a last drive and found Russell Gage Jr late in the game.
It set up a grandstand finish but Brady’s attempt at the two-point conversion to tie the contest was tipped away by De’Vondre Campbell for a Packer victory.
The Las Vegas Raiders gave the Tennessee Titans a late scare in another close encounter in Nashville. QB Derek Carr found Mack Hollins with a touchdown on fourth down to bring his side 22-24 but alas his two-point conversion attempt was also stopped.
The Atlanta Falcons played out an entertaining contest with the Seattle Seahawks. With the sides level 17-17 at half time, Seattle took a 20-23 lead in the fourth quarter. On a day when QB Marcus Mariota routinely found his tight-end Kyle Pitts throughout, this time he went for rookie Drake London who turned direction from five yards and ran in for a fourth quarter 27-23 lead.
The Seahawks were given a late chance to snatch the W out of the fire after an unforced error by the Falcons. A mix-up on an option-play saw neither the QB or running back come away with the ball and the Seahawks recovered. However, Geno Smith who had been tidy all day threw a late interception which finished the contest.
The New England Patriots gave the Ravens a fourth quarter scare when they got within five points of the Baltimore side on a day when Lamar Jackson once again showed his continued excellence. Lamar threw four TDs and ran in a fifth himself for a 37-26 win after an entertaining game in Foxborough.
The Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Laviska Shenault, traded by the Jags in the off-season, showed great speed and athleticism as he ran onto a Baker Mayfield pass and took it to the house from 67 yards.
The overall first pick of the 2021 draft Trevor Lawrence looked very much a superstar in the making as he ran the show in Jacksonville for an impressive triumph against a banged-up San Diego Chargers . The college phenom at Clemson showed good decision-making and game management and he also threw three touchdowns in a 10–38 win.
There were no second half heroics from Kyler Murray this week against the champion LA Rams who ran out convincing winners. The game was notable for the first rushing TD of Cooper Kupp’s career and more significantly, for Aaron Donald’s 100th sack in the NFL.
The Bengals made light work of the Jets for a comfortable 27-12 win. They will match up at home against the unbeaten Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
In the late game, Russell Wilson shut up some of his detractors as he led the Denver Broncos to a one-point victory. Wilson drove the Broncos down the field in the fourth quarter and Melvin Gordon rushed into the endzone for a late lead and win at Mile High Stadium in the Rockies.
Later tonight, the New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
Can they join the Dolphins and the Eagles in the 3-0 club?
Read our MNF preview later today to find out!