Josh Allen is the best quarterback in the AFC East.
The Bills are the best team in the AFC East.
And the Dolphins would be the worst team in the AFC East, if it weren’t for Adam Gase’s Jets.
Final score from a one-sixth full Hard Rock Stadium Sunday: Bills 31, Dolphins 28.
But don’t you dare pin this one on Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense.
The Dolphins’ defense deserves every bit of the blame.
Yes, Allen was spectacular. He made some truly fantastic throws en route to 417 passing yards and four touchdowns.
But he had plenty of help from the guys in aqua and orange.
Nik Needham got beat. Noah Igbinoghene got beat.
And with the game on the line, Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain got roasted.
Facing third-and-9 from the Miami 46 up four points with just over three minutes remaining, Allen threw deep to John Brown, who got behind Howard and McCain and scored the game-sealing touchdown.
Howard, who made just his second appearance since suffering a major knee injury last fall, took the blame for the last of many back-end busts by the Dolphins.
“That was my guy,” Howard said. “He ran to open space.”
And Allen got it to him.
“I peaked over on the other side and I tried to help him as much as I can,” McCain said. “It’s not just on him. As a defense, we could have played better. We’ll get it corrected.”
But how? And how before Miami’s next game — Thursday in Jacksonville?
This wasn’t a case of a couple of minor breakdowns. This was a systemic failure by the players in which the Dolphins have invested the most.
Howard’s 2020 cap figure is $13.3 million. McCain is making $5.5 million this year.
Byron Jones, who didn’t make it through the first series before leaving for good with a groin injury, is taking home $26 million in cash in 2020.
Ibinoghene, who allowed Stefon Diggs to go for 153 yards and a touchdown after Jones went out? A first-round pick. (“I learned a lot today. Not only about him, but myself as well,” Igbinoghene said.)
How about Kyle Van Noy, who dropped a gift interception deep in Bills territory? He signed a four-year, $51 million contract in the spring.
The list goes on and on. Emmanuel Ogbah (two years, $15 million) had a chance to bring Allen down on third-and-goal with the Dolphins up four. He whiffed, Allen found Gabriel Davis in the end zone, and the Bills didn’t trail again.
And then there’s Shaq Lawson (who earns $10 million annually): Two tackles, none for loss against his former team.
A brutal result for the Dolphins in general and Chris Grier — who constructed this roster — in particular.
“They’ve got good receivers,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “We struggled to cover them. They got open. They had time to throw it. Not enough pressure on the quarterback. I don’t want to put it all on the coverage guys. It’s a team game. It starts with me. Have to do a better job of putting them in position to cover them. We struggled there for sure.”
The final jaw-dropping stats allowed by the Dolphins’ defense Sunday: 524 yards. Nine yards per play. Completions of 47, 46, 46, 26 and 25 yards.
And any one stop would have won them the game.
After a slow start, the Dolphins were cruising and wore the Bills’ defense down in the second half with eight, 12 and 10-play drives, turning a seven-point deficit into a three-point lead.
The go-ahead score? A two-yard plunge by Jordan Howard.
But that lead lasted all of 4 minutes, 16 seconds. On the Bills’ next play from scrimmage, Diggs roasted Igbinoghene for a 47-yard gain, and then Allen hooked up with Davis for a six-yard touchdown pass.
That was just an appetizer of what came next.
The Bills, with the lead again, forced a quick punt.
But instead of milking the clock, they went for the jugular.
On Allen’s last two drives, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 145 yards and two scores. (One of his incompletions was a terrible deep shot that Howard had a chance to intercept, but could not.)
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, bounced back from a dreadful Week 1 by going 31 of 47 for 328 yards and two scores.
He should have had three. Preston Williams dropped what would have been the game-deciding touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the second half.
“I have confidence in our offense to pick up the one yard,” Flores said. “We just didn’t execute. ... One yard for a touchdown, seven points instead of three, i think it’s worth it in that type of game and against that type of team. You have to be aggressive to beat a good team.”
Especially when your defense can’t stop a nosebleed.