Buffalo strips away Miami's chance at win

Associated Press
Published October 10, 2005

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Nate Clements had to act fast. The game was on the line and the Bills couldn't afford another loss.

So when the Buffalo cornerback saw the ball coming loose, he provided one last punch to pry it free.

Clements delivered the key play - forcing Ronnie Brown's fumble in the final minutes - and preserved victory.

"I've been trying to punch at it all day because that dude's a load," Clements said. "I just went for the ball and it came out."

It happened after the Dolphins overcame a 17-0 deficit and were threatening to pull ahead.

After marching the Dolphins 36 yards on seven plays, Gus Frerotte hit Brown with a short pass over the middle. Brown cut right and was caught from behind by London Fletcher. Clements ran up and stripped the ball and Troy Vincent recovered on the Bills 18.

Forget the apparent quarterback controversy that might suddenly be brewing in Buffalo after veteran backup Kelly Holcomb started in place of 2004 first-round pick J.P. Losman.

Chalk this win up to a banged-up defense that allowed 1,054 yards in its previous three games.

Clements' turnover was the fifth of the game for Buffalo, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Bills offense also responded to a degree. Holcomb completed 11 of his first 15 attempts and engineered scoring drives on Buffalo's first three possessions. After scoring 17 in the first half, the Bills were limited to Rian Lindell's 47-yard field goal in the second.

Miami committed a franchise-record 18 penalties for 108 yards. The costliest was a holding call against linebacker Donnie Spragan that negated Vonnie Holliday's 8-yard sack on third down. The penalty gave Buffalo a first and goal at the Dolphins 3, setting up Moulds' 2-yard touchdown catch that put the Bills up 17-0.

"We need to improve our ability to play with discipline, especially on the road, especially in the beginning of games," Miami coach Nick Saban said. "That put us behind the 8-ball."

Frerotte hit Will Heller for a 1-yard touchdown 10 minutes into the third quarter. Frerotte then found Randy McMichael for a 30-yard touchdown with 8 minutes left, capitalizing on McGahee's fumble at the Buffalo 35.

Losman, meanwhile, is upset and embarrassed, wondering what - and how long - it will take to get his starting job back.

"Yes, of course, you are very upset, you're mad, you're trying to find all these negative things and turn them into positives," Losman said in his first comments since he lost his starting job to Holcomb. "All these feelings that you're feeling, embarrassment in front of your friends and family is probably the biggest thing. And it's just something you have to grow from and get over."

NOTABLE: The Bills honored former running back Thurman Thomas, inducting him as the 22nd member of the team's Wall of Fame in a halftime ceremony. He spent 12 seasons with the Bills, leaving in 2000 as the team's all-time leader in yards rushing (11,938), rushing touchdowns (65) and carries (2,849). Coincidentally, Thomas' final NFL season was with the Dolphins in 2000. ... Dolphins receiver David Boston was held out after his knee began swelling late last week. ... Dolphins running back Ricky Williams returns today after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.