The game was not only painful to watch for Miami, it was season-ending as the Dolphins (10-6) later went on to miss out on the postseason due to their loss to the Bills (13-3). That comes in a year when two teams in the NFC (Bears, Football Team), made the postseason with a .500 or worse record.
Following the huge regular season ending win for Buffalo, here’s how Bills Wire graded out them out in Week 17:
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (Gannett photo)
We're going to give Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen credit for something here that won't show up in the box score. He did not get himself injured against the Dolphins. That's the most promising thing to come out of this one. In terms of on-field play, Allen did set the single-season record in Bills history in terms of passing yards, and he had three impressive scores. However, he did have an interception. It required an amazing effort from Byron Jones on Miami's defense, but it was a giveaway nonetheless. Allen finished the game 18-for-25 passing with 224 yards. Adding to that was backup Matt Barkley as well. He tossed an interception himself but made up for it with another touchdown pass. Barkley finished 6-for-13 passing for 164 yards.
Running back: B+
Bills running back Antonio Williams(Gannett photo)
Between Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, only one play stood out. Moss caught a quick pass from Allen and he had an angry run for 13 yards. Aside from that... stale. Then Antonio Williams decided the Bills running back group needed a huge boost. The undrafted rookie came into the game in the second half and averaged 5.3 yards per carry, rushing for 63 total yards. He added 20 yards in the air as well. One would like to have seen more from the starting duo, but it's hard to fault them for not getting touches. Moss only had one bad read on a carry... but again, he had only three rushes in total.
Tight end: C+
Bills tight end Dawson Knox. (AP Photo/John Munso)
Even the eye test doesn't help Dawson Knox. He had two catches for 29 yards... which is about his usual output. But in total, Knox had eight targets. What gives? Some passes missed him, but questions were being asked a bit, too. Lee Smith was used only as a blocker and he did what was asked of him there.
Wide receiver: A+
Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Gannett photo)
No Stefon Diggs? No problem. Well actually, Diggs was very much in the game for the Bills and even led the team with seven catches, collecting 76 yards along the way. The story of this one was Isaiah McKenzie, though. His two touchdowns were a fantastic sight to see in case the Bills ever do actually run into injury trouble. Along with Diggs and McKenzie, John Brown returned to the lineup and didn't miss a beat, catching two deep balls, including one for a score. Gabriel Davis only had two catches on five targets but boy was that 56-yard touchdown catch from Barkley impressive. Davis continues to show he's not scared to block in pros, either.
Offensive line: B
Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
Usual story here. The Bills offensive line in the second half helped out Williams, but you could tell Williams was a man on a mission as well. In terms of the starting offensive line, early on, things weren't going well but the group settled in. Dion Dawkins was beat at left tackle leading to Allen being sacked and the QB was rushed on third down later on when Daryl Williams, at right tackle, was bull-rushed. After those few blips, the pass protection played well and Allen's legs via climbing the pocket was excellent. On Allen's first touchdown pass, Dawkins had a massive blitz pickup to more than makeup for his prior gaff. In their limited work, not a lot of space for Moss or Singletary. The Bills O-line doesn't do a good job of getting to the second level while run blocking like some of the elite O-lines do. Having a guy like Allen makes you not really mind that issue...
Defensive line: B+
Bills defensive end Mike Love. (AP Photo/John Munson)
You'd like to see a sack or two going against a rookie QB like Tua Tagovailoa. Having said that, many know who was calling the plays for Miami, former Bills coach Chan Gailey. His quick-strike offense is alive and well, and because Tagovailoa got the ball out so fast, sacks were hard to come by. Still, and even with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison not playing, the Bills impressed in the trenches on defense. AJ Epenesa got his first full workload and was disruptive. On Tagovailoa's mile miss on that early screen pass? That was Epenesa and Ed Oliver getting right in his face. Another time with the Dolphins backed up on their goal line, Oliver and Harrison Phillips completely stuffed a QB keeper up the middle, which really put the Dolphins behind the eight-ball, leading to a three-and-out. Justin Zimmer, like Epenesa and Phillips, recorded a QB hit as well. The most impressive play of the game came on Mike Love's tackle for loss. He would not be denied on that one.
Bills middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. (AP Photo/John Munson)
A bit quieter game from linebacker Matt Milano in this one as opposed to last week. He didn't play bad but he just wasn't noticeable. Milano did have five tackles. The real impressive one was Tremaine Edmunds this week. He wasn't bad in Week 16, just not great like his counterpart was. Against Miami, Edmunds was on a mission. He timed his early sack perfectly which stalled a Dolphins drive and went on to record 1.5 tackles for loss. Edmunds' often trademark ability to get sideline-to-sideline was evident.
Bills cornerback Josh Norman. Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Gailey's play calling isn't exactly the toughest task for a secondary to deal with, but the Bills' defensive backfield did what they needed to do vs. Miami. Josh Norman's pick-six touchdown was the highlight-reel moment and really iced the game. Dane Jackson, an emergency call up from the practice squad, had a nice pass breakup against Isaiah Ford and near tackle for a safety. Good instincts displayed there. Of course, Dean Marlowe's first two interceptions of his career weren't a bad sight to see late in the this one, but under the surface, another guy who deserves bigger praise is Taron Johnson. His help in run support was excellent and he notched a pass defended. The lone tough look came from Levi Wallace. Lynn Bowden had him spinning on one 10-yard catch and then he did get flagged for an obvious pass interference. We've seen much worse from cornerbacks in the past so no real reason to be too upset.
Special teams: A+
Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
McKenzie's punt return touchdown. Beautiful. Corey Bojorquez and his coffin corner punt. Beautiful. Tyler Bass did not miss anything, extra points and all. Beautiful.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott. (Gannett photo)
We can talk about coordinators Leslie Frazier and Brian Daboll and their play calling. We can talk about the lineup that Sean McDermott put out there, sure. But the biggest factor here was health and not only did McDermott's squad dodge any sort of blow to their lineup ahead of the playoffs, they continued, and even built on, the momentum this team has. A perfect chess move against the rest of the NFL.