1:00 PM ET, December 4, 2005
Buffalo (4-7) at Miami (4-7) Sunday 1:00 pm EST
MIAMI (Ticker) -- Coach Nick Saban would rather forget his first meeting against the Buffalo Bills.
On Sunday, Saban and the Miami Dolphins host the Bills in a battle of teams tied for second place in the AFC East, two games behind first-place New England.
The Dolphins matched their win total from last season after posting a 33-21 victory at Oakland last week. But the Bills have been a major disappointment, matching their loss total from last season after falling to Carolina, 13-9 last week.
Second-year Bills coach Mike Mularkey is 3-0 against Miami, including a 20-14 victory on October 9 at Buffalo. That game made Saban nauseous. The Dolphins committed a franchise-record 18 penalties and five turnovers.
Yet the Dolphins were driving for the potential go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter before cornerback Nate Clements forced a fumble by rookie Ronnie Brown and safety Troy Vincent recovered it at the Buffalo 18 with 1:37 left.
Gus Frerotte was intercepted three times, but also threw a pair of touchdowns and directed the Dolphins to the Buffalo 25 with under two minutes remaining. But on the next play, Brown, who rushed for 97 yards on 17 carries, caught a short pass and fumbled after being hit by linebacker London Fletcher.
Kelly Holcomb started that game for Buffalo and completed 20-of-26 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, although he fumbled three times and lost one.
But J.P. Losman has regained the starting job from Holcomb. He failed to get the Bills into the end zone in last week's loss at Carolina, completing 16-of-29 passes for 197 yards with an interception.
Look for Mularkey to pound Willis McGahee, who starred for the Miami Hurricanes, at the Dolphins. He gained 86 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries in the October 9 game and rushed for 202 yards in Buffalo's two wins over the Dolphins last season. McGahee has rushed for 948 yards this season.
Without injured five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Zach Thomas last week, the Dolphins yielded 97 rushing yards to LaMont Jordan in the win at Oakland last week.
Frerotte threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns and the tandem of Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.
With the Hurricanes, McGahee rushed for 2,067 yards and 31 touchdowns in just 21 games. Despite tearing the ACL in his left knee in his final college game at the Fiesta Bowl, McGahee was a first-round pick of the Bills in 2003. He spent his rookie year rehabbing the injury and rushed for 1,128 yards last season.
Series: The Dolphins lead, 49-33-1.
Next week: Buffalo hosts New England, December 11 Miami visits San Diego, December 11
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AFC East foes clash in Miami
Buffalo wants to hand the ball off to RB Willis McGahee early and often in an effort to win the time of possession battle and take some pressure of QB J.P. Losman on the road. The good news for Bills fans is the explosive McGahee will be working against a Miami run defense that has given up ten runs of twenty yards or longer this year. However, consistently picking up three-to-four yards per carry is far more important than breaking the occasional long run, and that will prove difficult.
Buffalo's defense has the unenviable challenge of trying to slow RBs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown down while dealing with key personnel issues. That could prove too much to overcome, but a Dolphins offense that has committed too many penalties at times and had problems protecting the football can bail the Bills defense out. If Miami has to rely on QB Gus Frerotte's arm, whether it's because of long down-and-distance situations or falling behind early, its chances of winning this game greatly decrease.
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|Avg Points Allowed||20.6||20.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||BUF|
|Rush Yds Allowed||BUF|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 5-5|
|Oct 9, 2005||BUF 20, MIA 14|
|Dec 5, 2004||BUF 42, @MIA 32|
|Oct 17, 2004||BUF 20, MIA 13|
|Dec 21, 2003||BUF 3, MIA 20|
|Sep 21, 2003||BUF 7, @MIA 17|
|Dec 1, 2002||BUF 38, MIA 21|
|Oct 20, 2002||BUF 23, @MIA 10|
|Jan 6, 2002||BUF 7, @MIA 34|
|Nov 25, 2001||BUF 27, MIA 34|