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Buffalo braves conditions and Williams' 228 yards

©Associated Press
December 2, 2002

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Drew Bledsoe overcame the elements and the Bills overcame Ricky Williams' best rushing performance.

Braving cold wind and a slick field, Bledsoe passed for three touchdowns and ran for one, sparking Buffalo to a 38-21 win Sunday over Miami.

It was enough to deal with the elements and Miami's Williams, who set a Dolphins record with 228 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns.

The game began with a temperature of 25 degrees and ended in near whiteout conditions as a heavy snow fell through most of the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins, 3-7 when the temperature is 27 degrees or colder, have traditionally had trouble playing in wintry conditions. The Bills and Bledsoe are much more accustomed.

"I've played in cold weather for a long time now, since high school," said Bledsoe, who grew up and played college football in Washington and spent his previous nine seasons in New England. "It never has been a real factor as far as throwing the ball. I've got big hands. I can throw the ball."

Bledsoe finished 15-for-27 for 306 yards and led three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half.

It was a prolific turnaround for a once-sputtering offense that produced 36 points in its previous three outings.

It was also a historic performance.

Buffalo's Eric Moulds, with 130 yards receiving, and Peerless Price, with 93 yards, each surpassed 1,000 for the season. Travis Henry, with 151 yards rushing, went over 1,000 for the season. It marked the first time three players on the same team have gone over 1,000 in the same game.

The Bills ended a three-game losing streak and jumped back into the AFC East playoff race, inching within a game of the Dolphins. Miami fell into a tie with New England. The Jets could make it a three-way tie for first with a win tonight at Oakland.

Williams alone couldn't carry the Dolphins, who lost quarterback Ray Lucas to a nerve injury in his neck. Williams scored on 45- and 55-yard runs and set single-game and season franchise record for rushing yards. He has 1,284 yards, beating the mark of 1,258 set by Delvin Williams in 1978.

"I've been preparing for it since Monday. I'd check on my phone to see the forecast and look on the computer every chance I had," Williams said of the weather. "I was a little nervous about it."

Lucas, making his sixth straight start in place of injured Jay Fiedler, finished 6-of-11 for 40 yards passing and a touchdown before he was hurt early in the third quarter. Fiedler took over, but appeared rusty, finishing 5-of-9 for 15 yards and an interception when the ball appeared to slip from his hands. Third-stringer Sage Rosenfels finished.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Fiedler will be ready Dec. 9 when Miami hosts Chicago.

The game's complexion changed significantly with 49 seconds left in the second quarter when Wannstedt gambled on a fourth-and-4 on the Bills 36. Lucas fumbled and Buffalo's Chidi Ahanotu, a former Buc, ran it back to the Miami 31. Three plays later Bledsoe hit Price on a 20-yard score to put the Bills ahead 17-14.

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