Instant takeaways as Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins lose to the rival Buffalo Bills

The Dolphins had their chance to make a statement louder than 70 points did.

Instead, the Buffalo Bills stuck to the same old script for when the Dolphins come to town.

What started out as a shootout didn't end that way Sunday as the Bills eased away from the Dolphins once more in Orchard Park, this time winning 48-20. The Dolphins, coming off their historic 70-20 rout of Denver, have won only once in their past 13 trips to Orchard Park.

The Dolphins arrived hoping to set themselves up nicely for the second month of the season. A win would have given Miami a 4-0 record despite playing three road games. They would have had a 2-0 record in the division and a 4-0 mark in the conference.

Instead, the Dolphins and Bills are tied atop the AFC East at 3-1.

Josh Allen had another outstanding day against the Dolphins, improving to 9-2 in his career against Miami. Allen threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Stefon Diggs. Allen also ran for a touchdown. "We wanted to score every time we touched the ball," Allen said.

More: Damar Hamlin plays in an NFL game 9 months after suffering cardiac arrest and almost dying

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass while pressured by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass while pressured by Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a pedestrian day by his 2023 standards (25-of-35 for 282 yards). He threw for one touchdown, was intercepted once and was unable to put up the huge numbers he had with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle this season. Miami's offense also was hurt by two fumbles by Raheem Mostert, who entered the game with only seven career fumbles.

The Dolphins return home to face the New York Giants at 1 p.m. next Sunday.

Dolphins' secondary can't handle Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis

Safety DeShon Elliott was questionable with ankle and groin injuries. The Dolphins determined he couldn’t go. Elliott has been one of the NFL’s top-graded safeties, according to Pro Football Focus, and his absence stung.

Brandon Jones, talented on blitzes, is coming back from an ACL injury and struggled at times in his start.

Gabe Davis opened the scoring on an 18-yard pass from Allen. Justin Bethel covered Davis on the play, but he may have expected deep help from Jones.

On Buffalo’s next series, Jones missed a tackle on Latavius Murray’s 29-yard run. Jones and Kader Kohou then combined to miss a tackle against Diggs on a 55-yard touchdown reception for a 28-14 lead.

Terron Armstead's injury further depletes offensive line

Miami’s offensive line, which has exceeded expectations this season, is getting tested once again.

Center Connor Williams was inactive with a groin injury, forcing Liam Eichenberg into the role. Eichenberg was called for being an ineligible receiver downfield in the fourth quarter, nullifying a TD pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle.

Late in the second quarter, left tackle Terron Armstead headed into the tunnel with a knee injury and never returned.

Armstead has dealt with too many injuries to list in his 1 1/2 seasons in Miami. Still, he has suited up when others probably wouldn’t, is a team captain and the leader of the line.

We’ll see how serious the knee injury is, but given that he had back, ankle and knee problems even before Sunday, perhaps the Dolphins’ best course of action would be to give him two or three weeks to get as close to healthy as possible.

Dolphins' defense has worst day tackling

The Dolphins’ defense, which appeared to be trending upward under coordinator Vic Fangio, looked more like it did in the opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Dolphins picked a bad day to have their worst tackling performance of the season. You know it’s an issue when even Jevon Holland has plays he’d rather take back.

There’s no easy solution in this era in which teams hardly tackle in practice, but that’s why Fangio gets paid the big bucks.

Likewise, Fangio will have to answer why he assigned Kohou — a fine corner but a second-year pro — to be on an island against Diggs. Xavien Howard has had his penalty problems this season, but would he have made a difference? Even if Fangio went into the game planning to have Kohou on Diggs, should he have called an audible? Given him help?

Miami’s secondary received little support from the men up front. The Bills were allowed to run up the middle with impunity. It wasn’t until late in the first half that Zach Sieler’s tackle for loss was the first notable play by a defensive lineman.

Christian Wilkins, in a contract year, hadn't made the stat sheet through three quarters. Yes, he’s a defensive tackle, but a hallmark of his game is being among the league leaders in tackles at the position.

Durham Smythe again makes an impact

The Dolphins are managing without Mike Gesicki at tight end.

His close friend, Durham Smythe, always seems to make his presence known with an unexpected big catch, not to mention his steady play as a blocker.

Sunday, we saw all of that.

Smythe made two catches, including a 22-yarder, to get the Dolphins rolling on their first TD drive.

De’Von Achane did the honors on a 3-yard run, then scored on a 10-yarder for a 14-14 tie.

The guy throwing important blocks on both scores? Smythe.

Achane also was a bright spot, following his 203-yard performance vs. Denver by running for 101 yards and scoring twice.

This and that

The Dolphins managed to get past the Patriots without linebackers Jaelan Phillips, but the Bills are another story. This time, we didn’t see Andrew Van Ginkel and Bradley Chubb making splash plays to make up for Phillips’ absence. … Braxton Berrios is proving to be a nice addition by GM Chris Grier. Sunday he scored his first touchdown as a Dolphin on an 11-yard pass from Tagovailoa. The Bills were willing to put the ball in his hands on kickoff returns, something Berrios had longed for in this era in which the kick return was on the endangered list. … Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who survived going into cardiac arrest during a game last season, made his first appearance in a game since that incident, playing on special teams and receiving a warm welcome from Bills fans. ... The "tush push" was cool at first, but when running backs are getting brotherly shoves from quarterbacks, it's bound to get the attention of the competition committee for the 2024 season. ... A shotgun snap when you need just a foot on fourth down? Why? ... Something positive happened when Tagovailoa was sacked by DaQuan Jones with seven minutes left. How? Jones landed with all his weight on Tagovailoa, but Tagovailoa's head did not bounce off the turf. In 2022, it may well have. ... This is the NFL, all right: Dolphins destroy Broncos 70-20 one Sunday. Dolphins lose to Bills, Broncos beat Bears, the next Sunday.

Dolphins reporter Hal Habib can be reached at Follow him on social media @gunnerhal.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Instant takeaways as Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins lose to Buffalo Bills