REGULAR-SEASON SERIES RECORD: Thanks in large part to that 20-game winning streak in the 1970s, the Dolphins lead, 49-34-1. Buffalo is 14-27-1 overall in Miami, but 12-9 in Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin Stadium. The Bills have won the last two games played there, and three of the last four.
Through the years, Ralph Wilson Stadium has been notoriously unkind to young quarterbacks, and Dolphins second-round pick John Beck was no exception. He tripped on his first play from scrimmage, took three sacks on five dropbacks, lost a fumble that George Wilson returned for a Bills touchdown, and lasted just three Miami possessions before Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron mercifully pulled the plug and sent in Cleo Lemon. Beck hasn’t started a game for the Fins since that day, and with a new quarterback-of-the-future on the roster, he probably never will.
He wasn’t the only one having problems, though. First-round pick Ted Ginn jump-started the Bills offense by muffing a punt early in the game, turning the ball over at his own 28, and it took Trent Edwards just three plays to find Robert Royal for the first of four touchdown passes on the day. The two would hook up again a few minutes later, and by the time Wilson crossed the goal line to give Buffalo a 21-0 lead just 10:25 into the game, everyone in the stadium knew a beatdown was at hand.
Lemon had his own problems, fumbling four times (losing one) and throwing interceptions on back-to-back second-quarter drives. Buffalo added another score on Lee Evans’ highlight-film catch, and led 31-7 at the half. The Bills were in cruise control for most of the second half, with Edwards capping off his afternoon by hitting Evans for a 70-yard touchdown.
NOTES: Edwards finished the game 11-for-23 for 165 yards; not spectaular numbers, but he managed the game well and never turned the ball over ... Marshawn Lynch, who missed the game in Miami, introduced himself to the Dolphins defense with 23 carries for 107 yards ... Fred Jackson (15-115) also hit triple digits, marking the first time two Bills backs had accomplished that feat since Thurman Thomas and Darick Holmes did it in 1996 ... Waiver-wire pickup Samkon Gado led Miami with 52 yards on 12 carries and scored both their touchdowns ... Buffalo improved to 7-6 with the win, while Miami dropped to 0-13, keeping Bills fans’ hopes alive for an 0-16 season. Alas, they managed to sneak past a bad Ravens team in overtime the following week.
For most of the afternoon, the Bills offense was just that: offensive. But with the game on the line, they managed to put together two fourth-quarter scoring drives to eke out a hard-fought win and keep Miami 0-for-2007.
The home team grabbed a quick 3-0 lead on the opening possession; the score stayed that way until after halftime, with cornerback Will Allen intercepting a deep pass intended for Evans to end Buffalo’s only scoring threat. Momentum seemed to shift early in the third quarter, when Justin Jenkins and John Wendling combined to down Brian Moorman’s punt at the Miami 2; three plays later, Chris Kelsay broke through the line and stuffed Cleo Lemon for a safety to bring the Bills to within a point. The offense turned in yet another three-and-out following the free kick, though, and Lemon redeemed himself, capping off a grinding 18-play series by outrunning Aaron Schobel to the pylon on the last play of the quarter.
Knowing they needed a touchdown of their own, J. P. Losman – a dreadful 6-16 up to that point – led an efficient drive, completing all four of his passes and converting a fourth-down quarterback sneak before handing off to Marshawn Lynch for the final three yards. Lynch then twisted and spun his way across the goal line on the two-point conversion to tie the game at 10.
“He just gets better all the time, and he’s awfully good,” said coach Dick Jauron of his rookie running back. “He’s very talented. He’s a tremendously competitive guy, and, obviously, he has unique gifts. He’s been gifted, but he uses them. He doesn’t shirk. He doesn’t shirk on practice, and he definitely doesn’t shirk on game day. Anything you ask him to do, he’ll try.”
The defense – already gashed by Jesse Chatman for over 100 yards – held this time, forcing a punt from midfield. The Dolphins could have kicked away from Roscoe Parrish, but chose not to. Big mistake.
“We talked about it, but the one thing we felt we could do, we could hang it up and get it down inside the 10, and that really puts them in a bind,” Dolphins coach Cam Cameron said afterward. “We didn’t get the coverage we needed, and obviously, it didn’t work out.”
Parrish caught the ball at the 10 and sprinted to midfield, setting the offense up nicely for a short drive into field goal range. Lynch converted two more third downs along the way before an ankle injury knocked him out of the game; Losman’s final pass, a nine-yard completion to Michael Gaines, brought in Rian Lindell for a 34-yard attempt. The kick was true with 0:50 remaining to put Buffalo in the lead for the first time, but a short kickoff gave Miami the ball at their own 45. This time, the Bills defense was up to the challenge. Following a short gain on first down, three straight Lemon incompletions brought Losman back out to run the final 19 seconds off the clock.
NOTES: Losman finished the game just 12-for-23 for 157 yards and an interception; Lemon wasn’t much better, completing 16 of 29 passes for 131 yards… Chatman racked up a career-high 124 yards on 27 carries, for a 4.6-yard average, and led the team with five catches for another 25 yards… Lynch gained 61 tough yards on 19 attempts, and added 24 yards on three receptions… The Bills improved to 5-4 with the win, while Miami dropped to 0-9.