Bills play well for 55 minutes before giving the game away in the final five.
by Steve Saslow
November 25, 2001
The Bills may have thought they had found as many ways to lose as possible but that changed against the archrival Miami Dolphins. The Bills found a way to give the game away in the final minutes in their 34-27 loss to Miami. They are used to making a last ditch frantic comeback effort in the final minutes. This week they found a way to give up 17 points in the final five minutes to lose the game.
The Bills came to play as they matched a one yard Lamar Smith touchdown run with an 80 yard catch and touchdown run by Eric Moulds. He caught a three yard out pattern, broke a tackle and went untouched down the sidelines for the tying score. Moulds challenged the Bills to get him the ball more and they did as he caught two touchdown passes in all and finished with 196 yards receiving in his breakout game of the year. Alex Van Pelt went over 300 yards passing for the second straight week as the offense had success moving the ball through the air and on the ground. Travis Henry adding 97 yards rushing as the Bills built a 27-17 lead with just over six minutes remaining before the roof caved in.
Henry ran with authority averaging 5.1 yards a carry and finished the Bills answer to a Dolphins touchdown with an 8 yard run. That gave the Bills a 10 point lead but it should have been an 11 point advantage. The special teams then brokedown right after Henry's score. Jake Arians missed the extra point and then Brian Moorman then kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds giving the Dolphins the ball at the 40. That setup a 60 yard touchdown drive in 8 plays that was setup by a 4th and 15 completion to Dedric Ward for a game saving first down. Jay Fiedler then hit rookie Chris Chambers with a 22 yard score on the next play to pull Miami within three at 27-24. If Arians hit the extra point it would have setup a huge two point conversion attempt. Since he missed it, Miami was just a field goal away.
The Bills went three and out on the next possession when a string of first downs would have made the special teams blunders moot. Miami took over at their own 38 and moved down into field goal range when Olindo Mare hit a 39 yard kick to tie the game. That is when the special teams made one more major mistake. Nate Clements fumbled the kickoff and Miami recovered at the Buffalo 42. Three plays later Fiedler found Chambers again for a 32 yard score giving Miami the stunning come from behind victory.
The Bills played a solid second quarter as they have all year. They answered a Mare 25 yard field goal with a pretty 14 play, 80 yard drive just before halftime to a Van Pelt one yard toss to Sheldon Jackson that gave the Bills a 14-10 lead at the intermission. The Bills added to the lead in the third quarter with a beautiful one handed grab on a deep pass by Van Pelt to Moulds for 54 yards that gave the Bills a 21-10 lead before Miami came back.
The Dolphins answered with a 62 yard scoring drive ending with a 8 yard pass to Weaver that pulled Miami within four at 21-17 before the rest of the fourth quarter heroics would happen. The Bills managed to gain a whopping 422 yards offense against one of the best defenses in the leagues. Van Pelt had a huge game and Moulds was finally a focal point in the offense. The defense was crisp for the most part and the Bills put up the best 55 minutes of football they have all season. Unfortunately it is a 60 minute game, and the youth and inexperience caught up to them in the final five minutes and they imploded. There were many fine efforts and chalk this loss up to another lesson in these young Bills careers. Besides the implosion the -2 in the turnover battle was a huge difference in the outcome. Here are our gameballs and goats:
Player Of The Week
Positional Breakdown and Grades
NFL.com Gamebook - Complete stats including play by play
Dolphins Game Preview
2001 Gameday Homepage
2000 Gameday Homepage
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