- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here is a look at whose stock is up and down in Miami:
1. Pass protection: Miami allowed seven sacks to the Bills. That was the biggest reason the Dolphins failed to get anything going offensively. Not only was Miami’s offensive line dominated by the Bills’ defensive line, but the blitz pickups by the running backs and tight ends also were poor. There is plenty of blame to go around. Miami set a new team record for quarterback sacks allowed with 58.
2. Dolphins running game: Another reason the team allowed seven sacks was the offense was predictable and one-dimensional. The Dolphins couldn’t run the ball and gave up on the ground game early. Miami rushed for just 14 yards on 12 carries. Buffalo was able to pin its ears back and come after the quarterback.
3. Miami’s playoff hopes: The Dolphins lost control of their own playoff destiny by losing to Buffalo. Miami now needs to beat the New York Jets in Week 17 and get some help. There are two ways for the Dolphins to get in. First, Miami can win and the Baltimore Ravens can lose. Second, Miami, Baltimore and the San Diego Chargers could all win, and the Dolphins would own the three-way tiebreaker due to a better conference record.
1. Brandon Fields, punter: Miami’s punter had a strong day in heavy winds. He punted 10 times for a season-high 501 yards. Fields averaged 50.1 yards per punt and had six punts inside the 20. Fields is a Pro Bowl candidate this year after another strong season.
2. Nolan Carroll, cornerback: It wasn’t his best game, but Carroll was one of the few who made some big plays against the Bills. Carroll recorded a sack and an interception off Bills quarterback Thad Lewis. Carroll also recorded six tackles and is much improved over last season.
3. Marcus Thigpen, kick returner: The final stats didn’t show it. But Thigpen was actually close to breaking open a few kick returns. Thigpen had three returns for 75 yards, with his longest return going for 30 yards. Thigpen could have made a huge play with another missed tackle or two.