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Dolphins Defense Should Get Help This Time

The Miami Dolphins defense slowed down Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense in the first half of both games last season

The scores weren't pretty when the Miami Dolphins faced the Buffalo Bills last season and lost both games by a combined score of 61-11, but maybe it's worth a closer look when it comes to the defensive performance.

And maybe it's a good place to start if we're looking for reasons the Dolphins have a legitimate chance to win Sunday against the Super Bowl favorite Bills.

Looking back, upon actually looking at what happened, Josh Allen and the Bills didn't have their way with the Miami defense nearly as much as their 30.5-point average would suggest.

In fact, we'd argue the Dolphins defense gave the team a chance to win each game until it collapsed in the second half, in part because the offense continuously failed to produce anything of consequence.

The 2022 offense doesn't look like a group that will struggle for extended periods of time, which means a solid defensive performance won't go to waste — like what happened last year.

The second game, the one at Highmark Stadium on Halloween, for starters.

Did we really forget that the score at halftime was 3-3 — and the Dolphins didn't lead because they gave up three points late in the half when they brutally botched a shotgun snap when the ball hit Mike Gesicki as he was going in motion in front of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa?

In that first half in Buffalo, the Dolphins held the Bills — Josh Allen included — to 122 total yards and five first downs.

The Dolphins offense had the ball first in the second half but went three-and-out before the defense did the same to the Bills offense. It was after yet another three-and-out by the offense that the defense finally caved, and Buffalo put together three long scoring drives to pull away.

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The Week 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium will be remembered for the hit that knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of the game with broken ribs, but the defense again did its part in the first half.

Yes, Buffalo scored 14 points in that first half, but both touchdowns came on short drives — after a 20-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie and after taking over on downs after the fourth-down incompletion when Tua was injured.

After those first quick touchdowns on Buffalo's first two possessions, the Dolphins defense recorded as many takeaways (2) the rest of the first half as Bills first downs.

With Jacoby Brissett at quarterback after Tagovailoa left and with the Dolphins trailing 14-0, the Dolphins had four possessions in the first half that reached the Buffalo 31, including two that reached the red zone.

Those four drives ended with an interception, a fourth-down failure when Malcolm Brown was stuffed, a Jakeem Grant fumble and a punt after Brissett was sacked.

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FOR EVEN MORE COVERAGE ON THE MIAMI DOLPHINS, CHECK OUT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S MIAMI DOLPHINS PAGE ON SI.COM

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DOLPHINS BETTER EQUIPPED TO BEAT THE BILLS

So how different would those two games have looked with the Dolphins having a functional offense, one that could do something against the Bills defense?

We already know the Dolphins offense is better in 2022 — as in, much better — and every starter on defense is back along with veteran newcomers Melvin Ingram and Trey Flowers (though Byron Jones still is on Reserve/PUP.

So, yes, there's reason to be optimistic the defense can control the Buffalo offense enough to give the team a chance to win.