Bills 23

(4-3, 3-1 away)

Dolphins 10

(5-2, 3-1 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, October 20, 2002


1 2 3 4 T
BUF 3 14 3 323
MIA 7 3 0 010

Bills' defense comes up big against Lucas

MIAMI (AP) -- The Buffalo Bills had the better quarterback, which was no surprise. They also had the better defense, which was a shock.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Bills: Any chance that they can make a run at the playoffs?
Yes. As hot as QB Drew Bledsoe has been, they can challenge anyone in the conference. The defense played better today, which is key for Buffalo. If the Bills stay hot offensively and the D improves, look out.

Question on the Dolphins: Do they need to simplify the offense while Jay Fiedler is out?
I don't know what they should do. I thought Ray Lucas would give them more flexibility at QB. But his inability to stay within the system and make safe passes really hurt the Dolphins today. Getting a lead will be even more important for the Dolphins while Fiedler is out, because then they can use Ricky Williams as an effective weapon on the ground.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Taking advantage of an erratic effort by Miami backup Ray Lucas, the Bills came up with four interceptions -- their first this season -- and recovered two fumbles to beat the Dolphins 23-10 Sunday.

Nate Clements tied a team record with three interceptions for the Bills, who entered the game last in the NFL with four takeaways.

"I forgot what it felt like, almost,'' Clements said of taking the ball away. "We said that when they come, they're going to come in bunches, and they did today.''

He returned his second interception 29 yards for a touchdown to put the Bills ahead to stay.

Buffalo, which went 3-13 last season, improved to 4-3 and closed within a game of Miami (5-2) in the AFC East. The Bills won for the first time in their past five games against the Dolphins.

"It puts us right back in the middle of the race,'' quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. "It was a big game for our defense. They stepped up and caused turnovers, and we were able to capitalize.''

While the Bills committed no turnovers and struck on a 70-yard pass from Bledsoe to Eric Moulds, Lucas played progressively worse in his first NFL start since 1999. He was replacing Jay Fiedler, who is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a broken right thumb.

"The way I played today was probably the worst a quarterback has ever played in the history of the NFL,'' Lucas said. "I don't think I've ever thrown four picks since I was born. I embarrassed myself. ... I probably won't sleep for the next three days.''

Lucas capped a 57-yard drive with a touchdown pass on the Dolphins' first possession but finished just 13-for-33 for 165 yards. Besides the interceptions, at least three other passes went off the hands of a defender. Miami lost fumbles when Lucas was hit as he handed off, and on a bad exchange between him and Williams.

"Six turnovers against a team that's averaging 35 points a game -- it's going to be tough winning,'' Miami coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was remarkable that the game was as close as it was.''

By the third quarter, fans were booing Lucas' errant throws. It didn't help that he worked with an injury-depleted receiving corps missing starters Chris Chambers (concussion) and Oronde Gadsden (wrist). This week Miami is expected to sign Cris Carter, the NFL's second all-time leading pass catcher, who is coming out of retirement.

Drew Bledsoe

Drew Bledsoe's Bills sports the AFC's heaviest offense, while Jake Plummer's Broncos are the lightest.

The Bills didn't need a big day from Bledsoe, who went 15-for-31 for 182 yards. Teammate Travis Henry (132 yards in 22 carries) outgained Ricky Williams (97 in 25).

Moulds put Buffalo ahead 10-7 by getting behind Pro Bowl cornerback Sam Madison and safety Brock Marion on a blitz, catching Bledsoe's bomb in stride at the 35 and sprinting to the end zone. Moulds played despite back spasms that limited his practice time last week.

"I didn't know if I was going to play,'' he said. "I was dying out there.''

Clements made it 17-10 with his second interception. An indecisive Lucas started to run and pumped once before throwing into the flat as he was hit. He ball sailed directly to Clements, who ran untouched for the score.

Two other threats by the Dolphins ended in turnovers. They reached the 21-yard line in the second quarter before Clements came up with the Bills' first interception of the season. The cornerback intercepted an overthrown pass by Lucas at the 8 in the third period.

When the Bills faked a punt from their 37 in the first quarter, Marion tackled punter Brian Moorman for a 6-yard loss. But the failed gamble didn't cost the Bills because Lucas fumbled back to them on the next play.

"Ray will be fine. He's the toughest guy in here,'' Miami linebacker Zach Thomas said. "He'll bounce back.''

Game notes

CB Antoine Winfield (knee) and T Mike Williams (hamstring) were inactive for the Bills. ... None of the Dolphins' injuries were believed to be serious. The list included Williams (right knee bruise), Thomas (dislocated finger), CB Patrick Surtain (left knee inflammation), WR Dedric Ward (right calf bruise), DE Rob Burnett (right knee bruise), RB Robert Edwards (knee sprain) and G Todd Perry (abdominal strain and right ankle sprain). ... Clements became the ninth Bills player to intercept three passes in a game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

Drive info: 1 plays, 21 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 2 plays, 76 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 1 plays, 21 yds, 0:00
Drive info: 2 plays, 76 yds, 0:00
bufFG5:00Mike Hollis 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 58 yds, 3:30
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 3:30
Drive info: 9 plays, 57 yds, 3:30
bufFG2:40Mike Hollis 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 34 yds, 3:40
miaFG5:10Olindo Mare 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 13 plays, 46 yds, 7:26
bufFG1:17Mike Hollis 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 23 yds, 3:33