Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 22-9 victory Thursday over the Buffalo Bills.

What it means: This was a big win for the Dolphins that keeps their season and playoff hopes alive. Miami won an important game to improve to 6-4 and avoid a season sweep to the Bills (5-5) for the second year in a row. The win keeps Miami firmly in the playoff hunt in a deep AFC, while also significantly hurting Buffalo's playoffs chances. The Dolphins snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bills.

Stock Watch: The stock of Miami's defense continues to rise. The Dolphins kept the Bills out of the end zone the entire game, even when Miami's offense struggled in the first half and the special teams gave the ball away with a third-quarter fumble. Miami's pass protection, as expected, is trending down. The Dolphins lost Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert (knee) last week and moved rookie Ja'Wuan James into Albert's spot. James filled in admirably. But Dallas Thomas struggled starting at right tackle against defensive end Mario Williams, who recorded 3.5 of Buffalo's five sacks.

Taylor shows well: Miami second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor made his first career start Thursday night in place of the injured veteran Cortland Finnegan (ankle). The former 2013 second-round pick showed well for himself in a prime-time game by recording seven tackles, including one tackle for loss. Buffalo tested Taylor regularly and he didn't give up a big play.

Game ball: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill entered this game with a 1-4 record against Buffalo. But Tannehill played his best game of his career against the Bills by throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns Thursday. Tannehill also had a key 15-yard run in the fourth quarter that moved the chains and ate up the clock. It wasn't always pretty, but Tannehill was gritty in a big game.

What's next: The Dolphins' tough November stretch continues. Miami will travel to face the Denver Broncos (6-2) on Nov. 23 in what should be one of the most difficult games on the schedule. The good news is the Dolphins have 10 days to prepare for future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning & Co.