AN UGLY AFTERNOON

This was the Dolphins' worst nightmare coming to life. For Ray Lucas, it probably was even worse.

Making his first start in place of injured starting Jay Fiedler, Lucas turned in one of the most disastrous performances ever by a Dolphins quarterback.

Lucas was picked off four times, including one returned for a touchdown by Bills cornerback Nate Clements, fumbled once and stumbled on a handoff that Ricky Williams never got cleanly, which caused another fumble.

The Dolphins defense, despite some problems stopping the run, did a very good job against the explosive Buffalo offense. But the turnovers and offensive miscues were too much to overcome, and the result was a 20-10 loss that left the Dolphins at 5-2 heading into their bye.

The game began well enough for the Dolphins, who held Buffalo without a first down on the Bills' first possession before marching 57 yards to take a quick 7-0 lead.

The big play of the drive was a 26-yard completion from Lucas to new tight end Desmond Clark, making his first appearance in a Dolphins uniform. The play gave Miami a first-and-goal at the Buffalo 4-yard line, and after a Ricky Williams run went nowhere Lucas hit rookie tight end Randy McMichael with a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Dolphins lost a great opportunity to score after stopping a Buffalo fake punt inside Bills territory. On first down from the Buffalo 31-yard line, the Dolphins set up to run a reverse, but Lucas was hit before he could make the handoff and his fumble was recovered by Buffalo's Pat Williams.

After the Bills cut the lead to 7-3 on Mike Hollis' 46-yard field late in the first quarter, the Dolphins appeared ready to strike again after moving to the Buffalo 21-yard line. But on third-and-4, Lucas' pass into coverage was intercepted by cornerback Nate Clements, the first of his three picks on the day.

Two plays later, Drew Bledsoe connected with Eric Moulds on a 70-yard touchdown pass to give Buffalo a 10-7 lead. It was the only pass play of significance the Bills would complete all day.

The Dolphins tied the game after a time-consuming drive ended with a 42-yard field goal by Olindo Mare.

But the Dolphins' third turnover of the first half gave Buffalo the lead again, as Clements picked off a Lucas pass and jogged 29 yards into the end zone to make it 17-10.

Travis Minor returned the second-half kickoff 46 yards to put the Dolphins in excellent position at the Buffalo 46-yard line, but Lucas later overthrew a wide open McMichael and the ball went straight to Clements for another interception.

Nothing worked for the Dolphins offense on this day. Late in the third quarter, they faced a fourth-and-3 from the Buffalo 35 and lined up for a field goal, except that only snapper Ed Perry, holder Mark Royals and Mare were on the left hashmark, while seven blockers and running back Robert Edwards were on the right side.

Perry snapped the ball directly to Edwards, but he only managed to gain 2 yards and Buffalo took over.

The defense kept the Dolphins in the game in the second half, allowing only a couple of Hollis field goals.

The Dolphins' last drive ended fittingly enough, with Lucas' pass going through the hands of Edwards and being picked off by linebacker Eddie Robinson.


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