Buffalo suffers another DEBACLE!

It would be unfair to pin the Bills' 34-7 season finale loss at Miami Jan. 6 entirely on dime defensive back Lance Brown. But it's awfully suspicious that after Brown's 15-yard penalty for a late hit on Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler – with Buffalo trailing just 13-7 – that the Bills began to disintegrate as a team.


Brown's penalty sparked Miami and sent Buffalo into an abysmal tailspin, after the Bills seemingly realized how ever-so-close they came to forcing a punt and getting a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown. That thought of wasting their best opportunity with a stupid penalty put them into a deep depression, one so powerful that no antidepressant – no Zoloft, no Prozac, no Paxil – would ever be able to handle.

On Miami's next play after the call, running back Lamar Smith ripped off a 14-yard run. On the second play, he ripped off a 15-yard run. Two plays later, Fiedler threw to receiver James McKnight for a 16-yard touchdown off a flanker screen that Nate Clements, playing off the ball, tried to defend by coming up for a tackle. Unfortunately, McKnight sidestepped the attempt and walked into the end zone with no other Bill nearby, giving Miami a 20-7 lead.

Bills quarterback Travis Brown, filling in for Alex Van Pelt, who went out with a shoulder injury in the first quarter, answered the Dolphins score by throwing an interception to middle linebacker Scott Galyon at the Buffalo 43. Six plays later – on a third and 15 no less – Fiedler scrambled 18 yards around left end for another Dolphins touchdown and a 27-7 Miami lead. Two touchdowns within eight minutes of Brown's penalty, making Brown's unsportsmanlike conduct call the ball-busting, back-breaking penalty of the afternoon.

And then to cap the afternoon, Brock Marion intercepted a Brown pass in the end zone and took it 100 yards for Miami's final score on the final play of the game. There was a penalty flag down, providing a momentary hope that the score would not count, but when it was determined that the ref caught Jonas Jennings facemasking someone, the touchdown stood. Miami was sent to the playoffs on a huge, momentum shattering interception return for a touchdown. Just another kick to the groin for Bills fans this year.

Then again, when a team surrenders 202 yards rushing, rushes for only 39 yards, allows its opponent an average drive start at its 41, is two for 13 on third downs (15 percent), and has a minus-three turnover differential, contributing to a 24 minute, 16 second time of possession, it's just not going to win a game.

Buffalo deserved to lose.

But it didn't have to be that way.

After getting accustomed to the game following a year-long layoff, Brown played well early in the second half. On the first drive of the third quarter, he completed four passes during an efficient seven-play, 84-yard drive. A 34-yard completion to Jay Riemersma to the Dolphins' 16 helped set up a Brown to Larry Centers' 12-yard touchdown reception, cutting the Dolphins' lead to 13-7 early in the third quarter.

But it was the Bills' defense that started the team's momentum that quarter. It used a quarterback pressure and sack on Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler to force Miami to punt on its first drive of the second half. Left end Kendrick Office recorded the big third down sack – his third of the season – beating his initial block and bringing Fiedler down.

The defense continued playing strong on the Dolphins' next drive, forcing Fiedler and the offense into a three and out. But Buffalo had to punt after a three-and-out of its own. That drive was stalled when, on a third and one from the Buffalo 26, Brown ran play action to Bryson and dropped back to pass, but was nailed by nickel corner Arturo Freeman on a blitz for an incomplete pass intended for Larry Centers. That seemed to foreshadow the beginning of the end.

Incidentally, Freeman had a big game, intercepting Alex Van Pelt on the Bills' first drive, which did not hurt initially, but contributed to bad field position as the Dolphins were able to punt the ball and pin the Buffalo offense near its end zone during the early stages of the first quarter.

On the Bills' third drive of the game, Van Pelt went out with a shoulder injury after Lorenzo Brommell landed on him following an incomplete pass to Larry Centers on third and ten from the Buffalo 34. He never returned.

On the three second quarter drives that Brown led, Buffalo never recorded any first downs, going three and out each time. Buffalo only managed 13 yards the entire half. And Brown didn't look particularly sharp, but then again, he hadn't played in a regular season NFL game since playing in Seattle last season.

Buffalo held Miami to 13 first half points – two Olindo Mare field goals, one at the half, and a six-yard Lamar Smith touchdown run up the middle. That was set up by Jeff Ogden's 48-yard punt return of a Biran Moorman pun from the Buffalo 37.

Miami simply took advantage of the short field; in effect it took advantage of its opportunities and that's why the Dolphins are going to the playoffs and Buffalo is going home this season. It has to do with simply taking advantage of opportunities.

Buffalo Football Report Top Stories