Ryan's defense to blame as Bills eliminated in loss to Miami
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Rex Ryan arrived in Buffalo vowing the build the Bills into a bully.
Some two years later, Ryan's prized defense is proving to be a pushover, opening questions about his job security.
Ryan was placed in a position of having to defend his reputation and future once again on Saturday after Buffalo (7-8) was eliminated from playoff contention in a 34-31 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Bills surrendered more than 200 yards rushing for the third time this season, and second in two months to Jay Ajayi.
''I know you can question it all you want, but I've been pretty decent throughout my career,'' Ryan said, referring to his history as a defensive specialist.
''Whatever happens, happens,'' he said. ''But I'm going to tell you this that I'll stand by my reputation. Let's put it that way.''
Ajayi had 206 yards rushing and a touchdown, and broke loose for a 57-yard run in overtime to set up Andrew Franks' 27-yard field goal with 47 seconds left.
Missed tackles, questionable time-management decisions and having 10 men on the field at a critical time conspired in Buffalo extending the NFL's longest active playoff drought to 17 straight years.
Most disappointing was the defense squandering one of the best offensive outings in franchise history.
The Tyrod Taylor-led attack combined for a team-best 589 yards, and had staked Buffalo a 31-28 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay with 1:20 remaining.
It was the defense that failed to hold up, Miami forcing overtime on Franks' career-best 55-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining.
On Ajayi's 57-yard run in overtime, Ryan acknowledged the Bills were short one player because the team failed to take into account that cornerback Stephon Gilmore was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol.
''I think we assumed he was going back in the game, as I was told, and apparently that didn't happen,'' Ryan said. ''Obviously, we didn't know about it or we would have called a timeout.''
The Bills' failure to stop Ajayi came during a week in which Ryan and his players vowed they'd be better after the second-year player had 214 yards rushing in a 28-25 win at Miami on Oct. 23. Two weeks ago, Buffalo gave up a franchise-worst 236 yards rushing to Le'Veon Bell in a 27-20 loss to Pittsburgh.
Turns out, that was all talk.
''Like, come on,'' safety Corey Graham said. ''We came in knowing that they were going to run the ball. And we've got eight, nine guys in the box sometimes, and we still couldn't stop the run.''
Don't blame Ryan, defensive lineman Leger Douzable said.
''The players need to take ownership,'' he said. ''We can't blame Rex when guys are in position. I understand if guys were nowhere near the ball to make a play. But guys were in position to make them.''
That included Douzable.
On Ajayi's 2-yard touchdown run to open the scoring, Douzable had him wrapped up in the backfield only to lose his grip.
On the 57-yard overtime run, Douzable was in the hole ready to make a stop, only to be pushed aside by Ajayi's stiff arm.
Taylor finished 26 of 39 for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He became Buffalo's first player to top 300 yards since journeyman Kyle Orton had 329 yards in a 26-24 loss at Oakland nearly two years ago to the day.
And Taylor did so on a day that got off to a rough start. He was involved in a traffic accident on his way to the stadium.
Without going into detail, he said his car was ''wrecked,'' but the crash wasn't his fault.
The Bills squandered two opportunities in overtime.
Buffalo's first drive ended with Dan Carpenter missing a 45-yard field goal attempt wide right. The second ended with Ryan electing to punt while facing fourth-and-2 at Buffalo's 41 with 4:09 left.
The decision to punt was second guessed because of how well Ajayi was running the ball, and because the Bills would have also been eliminated with a tie.
Ryan said he wanted to pin the Dolphins deep and count on his defense to stop them.
Receiver Sammy Watkins was disappointed by the decision to punt.
''Of course I pouted and got upset,'' Watkins said. ''But during the game, you can't. I mean you don't know what the situation is. What if we don't get it? Even though that's not our mentality, but that's coach's call.''
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