Bills defense can make amends for late-game collapses


Staff member

Sunday’s game in Miami is a fitting end to the regular season for the Buffalo Bills’ defense.
The Bills need to contain a great Miami Dolphins offense to win the AFC East and likely to keep their season alive. It’s a tough way to finish, a prove-it game.

It’s also an opportunity for the defense to make amends for its late-game collapses that have helped put the Bills in their Week 18 do-or-probably-die scenario.
Is that how the Bills’ defense of 2023 will be remembered?
For letting hapless Mac Jones drive the length of the field to beat it in New England? For letting Russell Wilson off the hook in the fourth quarter of the Denver loss? For letting the Eagles’ offense off the mat twice in the overtime loss in Philadelphia?

Or will those failures be overshadowed by the defense rising up to spark a five-game winning streak to close the regular season?

As the Bills’ defenders prepared to face the No. 1-ranked Miami offense Wednesday, they stressed their successes and failures from this season won’t mean anything when they take the field at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Every game has it’s own life,” said Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau. “Whatever you did in the past doesn’t necessarily matter. You can win by 70. We had four takeaways last week. None of that matters. It’s whoever plays better that day. We have to be ready to play our best ball in Miami.”
The ”win by 70” line is a reference to Miami’s 70-20 victory over Denver in Week 3, which was followed by the Bills’ 48-20 win over Miami in Week 4.

The script for the Oct. 1 victory played into the hands of the Bills’ defense. Buffalo’s offense scored on eight of its first nine possessions. The Bills surely can’t count on that happening again.

The Bills held Miami superstar Tyreek Hill to three catches and 58 yards in that game. You can bet head coach Sean McDermott would take that stat line for Hill in a heartbeat on Sunday night.
“He’s unique,” McDermott said. “I mean, in my 20-some years in the NFL, there’s no one else like him that I’ve seen in terms of what he can do on the field, what he’s been able to do this year.”

Don’t the Bills know it. Hill had a huge hand in knocking the Bills out of the playoffs in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. He had 172 yards in the former playoff game and 150 in the latter.

Unless the Bills get help from either the Steelers or Jaguars losing this weekend, a playoff spot along with the division title will be on the line in Miami on Sunday night. Josh Allen acknowledged he needs to be better than he was on Sunday against New England. Mark Gaughan and Katherine Fitzgerald discuss how Allen, Stefon Diggs and the rest of the Bills offense can get back on track. Mark and Katherine also looked at the impact players on the Bills defense along with how the Dolphins will look on Sunday with more players on the injured list.

This year Hill has 1,717 receiving yards, the most in the NFL and the 11th most in a single season in league history. A 100-yard game against the Bills would push his total to sixth best all time.

“The speed is obviously different,” said cornerback Taron Johnson of Hill’s 4.29 40-yard time, fastest among any starting wideout in the league. “Thankfully, I’ve been going against him pretty much my whole career. ... It’s tough. It’s not just the guy who’s covering him. It’s also the help who has to be aware. Just making sure even the guy who’s maybe not in front of his face has an awareness of where he’s at on the field.

“At the end of the day we’ve got to tackle in space, we’ve got to make plays on the ball, and that comes down to fundamentals,” Johnson said. “That’s a huge emphasis this week.”

Miami’s offense ranks No. 1 in scoring, yards, passing yards, and yards per rush.

Yet the Bills’ defense brings its own firepower. Buffalo is third in the NFL in sacking the quarterback and second in takeaways.
The Buffalo defense has the chance to define itself by those facts, not the late-game failures.
“Every year there’s going to be challenges, and this year we’ve had our challenges,” Johnson said. “But I feel like we’ve overcome them. Just stick with it as far as being focused one week at a time.”
Sorry, but the Iggles game does not apply. They forced a fumble and won that game in overtime as proven by the Baltimore v Chargers game