The Buffalo Bills are inching closer to ending the franchise's 17-year playoff drought.
Tyrod Taylor had 266 total yards and two touchdowns, LeSean McCoy scored twice and the defense forced three turnovers in a 24-16 win Sunday over the Miami Dolphins.
The Bills led 21-6 at the half after a strong performance by the offense. McCoy scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to open the scoring and Taylor threw a touchdown pass to McCoy to add to the Bills' lead. Taylor scored on a 9-yard run late in the first half.
In the second half, the Bills defense took over. Jordan Poyer, Tre'Davious White and Shareece Wright had interceptions to stymie the Dolphins offense. The Dolphins made it interesting late with a field goal and a recovered onside kick. But White intercepted an errant Jay Cutler pass to seal the win.
The Bills improve to 8-6. The Dolphins fall to 6-8.
Here is the Buffalo Bills Week 15 report card:
GRADING THE UNITS
Quarterbacks - A
Tyrod Taylor was the Bills' most valuable player against the Dolphins. He threw for 224 yards and a touchdown. He added 42 rushing yards and a touchdown. He made plays with his arm and his legs. One of his best throws was a beautiful 29-yard touch pass to Charles Clay. He had a few passes like that against the Dolphins. He had another beautifully placed throw on the touchdown to LeSean McCoy. When he plays well, this is a tough team to beat. He's not going to put up gaudy numbers, but he will get the offense moving.
Running backs - C
The Bills didn't establish much of a run game against the Dolphins. LeSean McCoy had 20 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. Travaris Cadet did pick up 24 yards on four carries in relief. Taylor chipped in with 42 rushing yards and a touchdown. McCoy eclipsed 10,000 rushing yards for his career. He also caught a touchdown pass in the win.
Receivers - C-
Tight end Charles Clay led the way with five catches for 68 yards against his former team. This offense is better when Clay is healthy and involved in the passing game. LeSean McCoy caught four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Nick O'Leary added two receptions for 33 yards. The wide receivers didn't have a big role in this game. Kelvin Benjamin caught two passes for 20 yards. Other receivers had a single catch. Taylor did take some shots down the field, but none connected. The Bills need to get the receivers more involved in the offense.
Offensive line - B
A good game for the offensive line. The rushing attack could have been better, but they provided enough protection for Taylor and opened up a few holes for McCoy on long runs. It was a good performance when you consider the Dolphins have a great front four.
Defensive line - B+
The defensive line played well. Cap Capi had a sack and a forced fumble. Ryan Davis also had a sack. The reserves were effective in the pass rush. That's how the Bills defense works. You want the reserves to come in and be just as good as the starters. They delivered. The front four also played a key role in limiting the Dolphins' rushing attack. It was good early, but the Bills held the Dolphins in check the rest of the way.
Linebackers - B
It wasn't looking good early when Kenyan Drake was carving up the Bills defense. But the front seven hunkered down and improved. This was a solid outing for Preston Brown, who finished with 10 tackles (seven solo) against the Dolphins. The Bills only gave up 100 rushing yards. Drake, who had over 50 yards in the first quarter, finished with 78 yards for the game. The defense was dominant for the rest of the game.
Defensive backs - A
An excellent game for the secondary. Tre'Davious White sealed the win with an interception. Jordan Poyer and Shareece Wright had interceptions earlier in the game. Cutler threw for 274 yards, but he didn't beat the Bills deep. A lot of the Dolphins' pass plays were underneath or on short routes. The secondary kept the Dolphins receivers in front of them and didn't give up much.
Kicking and punting - A
Steven Hauschka kicked a 34-yard field goal and converted three extra point attempts. The conditions discouraged both teams from trying any long field goals, so Hauschka didn't get more attempts.
Punter Colton Schmidt had an excellent game. He pinned the Dolphins inside the 20 three times. His best punt came in the third quarter when his punt landed inside the 5 and was downed at the 1-yard-line. His average of 41 yards per punt wasn't his best, but it was all about situational punts in this game. He did his job.
Returns and coverage - DA low grade this week because the Bills gave up a big return to Jakeem Grant and didn't get very much done in the return game. Brandon Tate has been good at times, but he's not an elite returner. The Bills need someone who can get more out of the return game.
A well-coached game by the Bills staff. Sean McDermott had this team ready for a key December game against an AFC East rival. They went with a balanced attack on offense and the defense improved as the game progressed. The Bills finished the season 6-2 at home. McDermott made it a priority to take care of business at home. The Bills did that in 2017.
OVERALL TEAM PERFORMANCE
A good team win. The offense was effective and the defense forced three turnovers and limited a dynamic offensive attack. The Dolphins were coming off a win at home against the New England Patriots. That didn't faze the Bills. They were the better team on Sunday.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
OFFENSE: Tyrod Taylor. A good all-around game for Taylor. He had 224 passing yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 42 yards and a touchdown. The knee looked fine. His mobility wasn't limited. He escaped a couple of sacks and made plenty of big plays for the Bills.
DEFENSE: Jordan Poyer. Poyer has been a star all season. He had an interception and two passes defensed, including a key breakup on a Jay Cutler pass late in the fourth quarter. Cutler appeared to have a touchdown pass, but Poyer got a hand in to break up the pass. Poyer also had six tackles (four solo) in the win.
Discipline. The Bills were called for a couple of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, including one that allowed the Dolphins to score a touchdown. You can't fall into the Dolphins trap. They have some chippy players on their side. They're going to try and get you to lose your cool. You have to be composed, especially in key scenarios.
STAT OF THE GAME
10,000. With one of his best runs of the game, LeSean McCoy eclipsed 10,000 rushing yards for his career. He is one of the best running backs in the NFL today. He didn't have his best game against the Dolphins, but he registered two touchdowns and 96 total yards.
STAT OF THE GAME II
9. The Bills had nine passes defensed against the Dolphins. Tre'Davious had three, including his game-sealing interception.
Tyrod Taylor has had some of his best games against the Dolphins. That trend continued Sunday. He will need to put up another good performance in two weeks if the Bills want to end the franchise's lengthy playoff drought.
The Bills (8-6) will play at 1 p.m. Sunday against the New England Patriots. The game will be televised on CBS.