ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Call Rex Ryan teams whatever you want, but one thing you can't usually call them is soft. The self-professed old-school coach prides himself on the toughness of his teams, that whole "build a bully" mentality, and he loves to win by pounding the ball on the ground and beating people up on defense.
Neither of those things happened in the Buffalo Bills' 28-25 loss to Miami on Sunday as the Dolphins won the war in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Miami's offensive line gouged Buffalo's front seven for 256 rushing yards, including 214 by Jay Ajayi, the second-highest individual total the Bills have ever allowed.
On offense, the Bills couldn't do anything as Miami's talented defensive line routinely shoved Buffalo's offensive line into the backfield and held the No. 1 rushing team in the league to 67 rushing yards.
"We got out-physicaled on both sides of the ball, which is rare for us, but it happened," Ryan said. "Obviously, we got outplayed, we got outcoached, we got out-everything'd. They were a more physical team today, there's no doubt about that. They controlled the game and that's why they won the game."
The Bills were hamstrung -- literally -- by LeSean McCoy's sore hamstring, which he injured in practice Wednesday. It seemed unlikely that he would play, but he decided to give it a go and it was clear he was not 100 percent. McCoy managed just 11 yards on eight carries before leaving the game in the third quarter.
"We couldn't find rhythm," said guard Richie Incognito. "It starts with us up front. We should've had a good day, but we had an off day as an offensive line. They were a physical bunch and (there is) no explanation for it. You have to show up and bring it every Sunday."
"Yeah, it's surprising," Bills center Eric Wood said. "We thought we'd come down here and be more effective offensively, but credit them. They played better than us. We were losing matchups in the run game, and that hurts. And we weren't making plays in the pass game. And that's everybody."
Yet even with the running game sputtering, the Bills had a 17-6 lead midway through the third quarter. That's when things began to change. The Dolphins, who were already finding great success on the ground, handed the ball six times to Ajayi on the key drive of the game, a 75-yard march that ended with Ajayi scoring from the 4-yard line before Jarvis Landry catching a two-point conversion pass that cut Miami's deficit to 17-14. That possession turned the tide for good.
Ajayi ripped off a 53-yard run in the fourth quarter that dug Miami out of a second-and-8 from its own 3. It flipped the field, and after an exchange of punts, the Dolphins drove to the go-ahead touchdown, Ajayi blowing through the Bills for a 14-yard run which set up Damien Williams' 12-yard touchdown run.
"They definitely went out and punched us in the mouth," linebacker Preston Brown said. "And we didn't do anything about it. No running back's supposed to do that to our defense."
Added linebacker Lorenzo Alexander: "They came out and did a good job. They played more physical up front. He was a one cut, downhill, and then once he got to the second level, he was a very strong runner and had some big plays. That's really why we ended up losing this game. We lost the game on first and second down and allowed him to have too many explosion plays in the run game."
REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS
PASSING OFFENSE: D -- The Bills struggled yet again trying to find any consistency to their passing game. QB Tyrod Taylor is still missing throws, or not making a throw when it presents itself, seemingly afraid to push the ball downfield. He did connect with Marquise Goodwin on a 67-yard TD, and that's the one thing he does well is throw the deep ball. Otherwise, it was the usual mixed batch of scattershot throws. Taylor was far from the lone problem, though. The offensive line had a brutal day in protection as Taylor was sacked four times, and the wide receivers are mostly helpless when it comes to getting open.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- The league's No. 1 rushing team was stymied by a Miami run defense that came into the game ranked No. 31. The Bills managed just 67 yards, and one of the main reasons was that LeSean McCoy was hampered by a hamstring injury and rushed only eight times for 11 yards. The line was unable to open holes for McCoy or his backup, Mike Gillislee. Taylor ended up leading the Bills with 35 yards, and he scored on a 10-yard designed keeper.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- Miami QB Ryan Tannehill completed only 15 of 25 for 204 yards, with 66 coming on his late TD to Kenny Stills, but that was directly attributable to two Bills defensive backs colliding on the play. One of those players was CB Stephon Gilmore, who also committed a dumb holding penalty when Miami was in a first-and-20 situation. Most disappointing was the pass rush, with only one sack of Tannehill, that by Lorenzo Alexander. Rookie Shaq Lawson had very little impact in the 14 snaps he played.
RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The Bills were horrendous. They missed tackles, could not get off blocks and were generally blown off the ball all day. Jay Ajayi rushed for 214 of Miami's 256 yards, and he beat Buffalo several times when cutbacks on stretch plays. The Bills allowed Miami to make 15 first downs via the rush. The Bills' two leading tacklers were defensive backs Ronald Darby and Corey Graham, and most of those were on running plays down the field. Truly a head scratching kind of day.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The Bills clearly won this phase with several big plays, and if not for the play of the kicking teams, the Bills might have been blown out in this game. Buffalo's first two scoring drives started at the Miami 30 and 40 thanks to Brandon Tate's 30-yard punt return, and Lerentee McCray's blocked punt. The coverage teams were outstanding as the Dolphins never had a chance for a big return. Dan Carpenter made all of his kicks again, and punter Colton Schmidt averaged 41 yards net and had two punts down inside the 20, including one that was downed at the 1 by Tate who made a great play.
COACHING: D -- Props to special teams coach Danny Crossman, who had his guys ready to play. Beyond that, it was a tough day. Rex Ryan and his defensive staff got out-schemed by Miami's run game. The Dolphins kept running the same plays with Ajayi, and the Bills couldn't stop it, even though Ryan said he tried everything. On offense, Anthony Lynn doesn't have a full deck, especially with McCoy hurt, and both starting WRs Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods sidelined. The receivers can't get open, but Lynn has to find a way to get something from the passing game, because right now it's unwatchable.