BIG COMEBACK AT BUFFALO

It might have been the most important quarter of Jay Fiedler's football career.<P>With criticism reaching ugly proportions and the knowledge that his job was no longer on solid footing, Fielder raised his game a few notches last Sunday and demonstrated why Coach Dave Wannstedt continues to believe he is the right quarterback to lead this team.

The statement was clear and convincing: 8 of 12 for 123 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead a stirring comeback. Perhaps most importantly, there were no interceptions and only one close call, a pass that Oronde Gadsden batted away from two defenders.

Fiedler executed the way most had hoped he would the week before against the Jets. His passes were crisp and he played with a confident air. His 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Chambers, which brought the Dolphins within 27-24, was as picturesque a throw as you'll see. Fiedler caught Chambers in perfect stride heading toward the end zone sideline. His game-winning 32-yard touchdown pass to Chambers was lofted at the ideal height to allow Chambers to outjump the defender.

When Fiedler had to come through, he did. He silenced his critics, at least for another day, and eliminated any thoughts of a quarterback controversy. It is clear with six games left that this is Fiedler's show and nobody else's.

"For me to come back with a performance like this after the Jets game, let's just say it was very important," Fiedler said.

Said Chambers, "A lot of people have doubts. But we don't have any doubts."

You just know the days leading up to the Buffalo game were filled with uneasiness. Fiedler was ripped from talk shows to newspaper columns for his 15 interceptions and, most notably, the mistakes he made in the shutout loss to the Jets. It was time for Fiedler to step up or Ray Lucas might have taken over center stage. And step up he did.

"When we're desperate," Fiedler said, "it brings out our best."

Desperate, as in trailing by 11 points (21-10) in the third quarter and by 10 points (27-17) midway through the fourth quarter. But Fiedler never wavered, first closing the gap to three on a 22-yard strike to Chambers and then leading the Dolphins to a game-tying field goal with 1:11 left.

Then there was a Buffalo fumble on the ensuing kickoff, forced by defensive end David Bowens and recovered by cornerback Patrick Surtain, and then that 32-yard game-winning pass to Chambers.

Said Chambers of his game-winner: "I just went up and got it. Jay put it up there and I knew I could jump high enough. I wasn't going to let it slip through my hands."

Just as the Dolphins weren't going to let this crucial game slip through their hands.

"The hardest part is keeping your focus, not listening to all the critics, all the people outside the team," Fiedler said. "It was a huge game for this team — and a huge game for me."


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