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3 things we learned about the Dolphins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, making just his third NFL start, outplayed his Miami Dolphins counterpart, Ryan Tannehill.

As a result, the Bills defeated the Dolphins 41-14 on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, and the sense is that Buffalo is starting to believe in its new QB.

“This whole football team has confidence in (Taylor),” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “This kid is legit. We know he’s legit. When the protection holds up, this kid can burn you.”

The numbers back that up as Taylor, a 2011 sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens who had never started an NFL game before this season, completed 21 out of 29 passes for 277 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But Taylor was far from the only Buffalo hero. Middle linebacker Preston Brown intercepted two passes and returned one for a 43-yard touchdown.

In addition, Ronald Darby intercepted his second pass of the season, and Karlos Williams scored his third NFL touchdown, rushing 12 times for a game-high 110 yards.

This was the Dolphins’ 50th home opener, but it surely wasn’t what many Miami fans expected, especially after the team spent $114 million to sign star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the offseason. But, for the third week in a row, Suh was a non-factor.

Tannehill was intercepted three times in the first half, helping Buffalo build a 27-0 lead at the break.

“There are things we need to correct, but there’s no panic,” Tannehill said. “We have 13 games left.”

Buffalo scored touchdowns on its first two possessions. Clay caught a 25-yard pass to cap Buffalo’s first drive. The Bills made it 14-0 on Taylor’s 10-yard pass to running back LeSean McCoy, capping an eight-play, 81-yard drive.

What we learned about the Dolphins:

1. Letting tight end Charles Clay sign with Buffalo appears to have been a mistake. Clay burned the Dolphins for five catches, 82 yards and one touchdown, making good on a high percentage of his seven targets and faking out two Dolphins on his score. His replacement, Jordan Cameron, caught three passes for just 16 yards and had one key drop for Miami. He was targeted eight times.

2. The Dolphins have wasted their opportunity to get off to a strong start. After an unimpressive opening-week win at the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins lost to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. Sunday’s home loss to Buffalo puts the Dolphins in last place in the AFC East at 1-2. It’s early, yes, but the New England Patriots are 3-0 and the Bills and Jets (both 2-1) look to be highly improved. The pressure has ramped up on Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in this playoffs-or-bust year.

3. The Ndamukong Suh signing is not having the desired effect on the Dolphins defense. Suh faced a Bills interior that included a rookie — guard John Miller. Even so, Suh wasn’t nearly as disruptive as Miami needs him to be to justify his salary.

Etc.:

–QB Ryan Tannehill completed 26 of 49 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers sound nice, but Tannehill was mostly ineffective, falling behind 27-0 in part because of his three first-half interceptions. Only one of the interceptions was the fault of a Dolphins receiver. The other two were on Tannehill, who admitted he got confused on one particular Bills blitz.

–WR Rishard Matthews was Miami’s bright spot. He caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Much of this was in garbage time as Miami trailed 27-0 at halftime and never got closer than 20 points at any point after intermission. Still, Matthews, who asked to be traded in the offseason because he saw Miami stockpiling receivers, has seemed to find a role on the team.

–CB Brice McCain was brutal on Sunday, and that’s an important thing because the Dolphins have a respected player on the other side in Pro Bowl corner Brent Grimes. That means teams tend to stay away from Grimes and find the weak link. That weak link on Sunday was McCain, who was beaten way too often for the Dolphins coaching staff.


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