Buffalo Bills in 'play to kill' mode in win against Miami Dolphins
Bills receiver and Miami native Isaiah McKenzie hadn’t had a chance to review all of the text messages that had his cell phone “blowing up” after he scored three touchdowns in Sunday’s 56-26 trouncing of the Dolphins.
He did notice some of them, though.
“I got a lot saying, ‘Why did you do that to the Dolphins?’ ” McKenzie said after the game. “We knew the Dolphins needed a win to get into the playoffs, and to do that, they would have to break our (now six-game) win streak. We wasn’t trying to let that happen.”
McKenzie may have tweeted, “For some reason I was rooting for the dolphins, well deserved” with a fist emoji after the Dolphins’ comeback win against the Raiders last week, but like his teammates, he felt no mercy for them Sunday.
“We’re a different team, where we play to kill,” Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins said.
“It just shows this is a different Buffalo Bills football team [from the past],” Dawkins added. “We don’t have to get in [to the playoffs] on anybody’s back, on anybody’s pigtails or anyone’s blessing. This is all our doing. And it feels good to kick that front door down and sweep the [AFC] East.”
The Bills’ six offensive touchdowns against the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense was stunning. So was their defense’s domination, even with some starters resting much of the second half.
They intercepted Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa three times in 10 minutes of game action spanning the third and fourth quarters — Tagovailoa had two interceptions total in nine previous games — and forced the rookie to finish with his worst quarterback rating (62.5). His previous worst (73.4) came against the Patriots on Dec. 20.
Tagovailoa wound up with career highs in completions (35), pass attempts (58) and passing yards (361), but his interceptions were more consequential.
Bills safety Dean Marlowe snagged two of them — his first two of the season.
“That’s the only thing on my mind right now, is that I didn’t get that third one,” Marlowe said with a smile afterward.
Cornerback Josh Norman returned Tagovailoa’s first interception — a short pass for DeVante Parker that arrived after Parker slipped and fell cutting — for a touchdown. Then later in the third quarter, Tagovailoa threw a high pass that glanced off leaping Lynn Bowden Jr.’s outstretched right hand. Early in the fourth, Tagovailoa even more badly overthrew Mike Gesicki over the middle. Tagovailoa blamed miscommunication for two of the interceptions and a bad decision by him for the third.
“We knew coming into this game that the challenge here for us was going to be their defense — their front seven as well as their back end,” Tagovailoa said. “They did a really good job schematically with how they schemed up the things that we were doing. They all played together. They can communicate things last minute and do things to try to confuse you.”
Said Marlowe: “We do our job and disguise our coverages really well.”
He added, “We stay locked in, play after play, and we try to make it confusing for the opposing quarterbacks every second we get. We try to move around knowing that Tua is a rookie quarterback. And he’s a really good rookie quarterback and has great potential coming his future years. We just tried to go out there, play free and have fun.”
Having already locked up a division title, the Bills (13-3) could have eased into the playoffs Sunday. Instead, they “just played a little bit harder,” than the team that badly needed to triumph, Dawkins noted.
That shows “we’re humble and hungry,” Marlowe said. “We always want more. Playing football, you’ve got to be a dog. You’ve got to be hungry. You’ve got to be humble also because [otherwise] the football gods won’t take care of you.”