PHOTO: Buffalo Bills quarterback Kelly Holcomb throws during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005. The Bills won 20-14. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Around the AFC East: Week 5 Recap
By Scout.com Staff
In the worst kept secret in the NFL, the Bills started veteran Kelly Holcomb at quarterback over struggling second-year pro J.P. Losman on Sunday against the Dolphins.
The move paid off with a 20-14 victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium, snapping Buffalo's three-game losing streak and allowing the Bills to keep pace in the hectic AFC East.
But despite Holcomb's 20-of-26 passing day for 169 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, coach Mike Mularkey refused to name him the starter for this week's home game against the Jets.
Seems Mularkey likes having the ability to keep his opponent guessing. And that's OK with Holcomb.
"I'm not worried to be honest with you," said the former Cleveland Brown, who raised his record as an NFL starter to 5-9. "All I knew is that I was playing this game. That's the coach's decision. We won this ballgame. Everybody in that locker room is happy right now. I'm happy."
While Mularkey may like the gamesmanship, it's unlikely he'd go back to Losman. To do so would risk alienating his veterans, who were elated to see Holcomb get the chance to prepare for a week and start a game.
"He knows a lot of veterans want to win now," said 10-year wide receiver Eric Moulds, the most outspoken on the team. "The window for the guys who have played 10, 13, 14 years is closing. We could get on a winning streak and end up winning the Super Bowl, you just don't know. Young guys, they have a long time to play barring injuries, but for me, every game counts now."
Holcomb deftly led the Bills to scores on their first three possessions for a 17-0 lead, hitting the kinds of short- to medium-route throws Losman has struggled with.
He hit Lee Evans with a quick slant that turned into a 49-yard gain to set up a Willis McGahee 1-yard touchdown plunge. He found fullback Daimon Shelton for 15 yards and tight end Mark Campbell for 5 to set up a field goal. Those two positions had all but been forgotten under Losman. On Buffalo's third scoring drive, he converted a third-and-2 by hitting Evans on a sideline route good for 3 yards -- a throw Losman hasn't made -- then hit Moulds for a TD on a 2-yard post.
"I'm happy with him," Mularkey said. "He made some good throws, especially a touchdown throw where he had to hit it in the hole between a guy covering Sam Aiken. I thought it was a great throw ... and for the most part, yes, I'm happy with him."
Mularkey did want to watch the film and see why the offense struggled after those first three series. The team's next six possessions ended with five punts and a Holcomb fumble when he failed to get the exchange to McGahee.
Miami converted that into a touchdown that cut Buffalo's lead to 17-14. Three other series ended with Holcomb being sacked.
Veteran Kelly Holcomb threw for 169 yards and one touchdown, and Buffalo's defense and special teams came up with five turnovers in a 20-14 win over Miami. The Bills snapped a three-game losing home streak.
The Dolphins, who self-destructed with a team-record 18 penalties, were still in position to win the game in the closing minutes, but the Buffalo defense held.
On a second-and-6 at the Buffalo 26-yard line, Gus Frerotte hit rookie Ronnie Brown with an 11-yard pass over the middle. Brown was hit by Nate Clements and fumbled. Troy Vincent recovered at the 18-yard line, ending the Dolphins' threat with 1:37 to play.
--QB Kelly Holcomb raised his record to 5-9 as an NFL starter, completing 20 of 26 passes for 169 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, three sacks and a 106.1 passer rating against Miami.
--RB Willis McGahee averaged just 2.8 yards per rush but received a season-high 31 attempts against Miami. That allowed Buffalo to control the ball for 35:12. He also scored on a strong 1-yard run.
--WR Eric Moulds finished with a team-high seven catches for 59 yards against Miami and scored his first TD of the season. It was his first score in eight games, dating back to last year's game in Miami, a 42-32 Buffalo victory.
--CB Nate Clements came up big against Miami with seven tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and two passes defended in Sunday's 20-14 victory.
--RT Mike Williams, who was not able to practice for a third straight week due to what's believed to be a high ankle sprain, dressed but did not start against Miami. He did play on some special teams. Greg Jerman started again in Williams' place.
For the first time since December 2004, Ricky Williams is once again set to play a regular-season game for the Dolphins.
Williams is eligible to return Sunday against Tampa Bay after serving his four-game suspension for failing a third drug test for marijuana. Williams wasn't allowed to practice with his teammates during the suspension but he could work out on his own and attend meetings.
Williams will participate in his first practice Wednesday since the suspension began at the end of the preseason.
"When he gets back on the field, we will be able to see where he is and take it from where it is," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We mapped out a schedule for him, and he has done everything that we've asked him to do on that schedule every day in every way. He has worked out in whatever we work out in. I have no crystal ball to know, but it seems like it is OK."
Saban is expected to split snaps between Williams and rookie tailback Ronnie Brown, including formations with both in the same backfield.
"We have an idea of how we are going to use (Williams), but we don't have an idea of where he is in terms of how much we use him," Saban said. "There is a difference. You try to bring players back role-wise relative to what you think they can do without putting them at risk for injury or get them playing in a game where they are not really 100 percent.
"I am assuming that he will be in a decent place from a physical conditioning standpoint. It would take a little while to get him back to where he was, but he was in pretty good condition when we started. He has worked hard, and I think it will come back quickly to him when he gets going with the team."
The Dolphins' penchant for mistakes continued in a 20-14 loss at Buffalo, as Miami committed five turnovers and a franchise-record 18 penalties for 102 yards. Buffalo sealed the victory in appropriate fashion, as Dolphins tailback Ronnie Brown lost a fumble at the Bills 18-yard line with 1:37 remaining to essentially end Miami's chances to complete a comeback from a 17-0 first-half deficit.
Miami (2-2) has committed double-digit penalties in all four of its games this season under Nick Saban, which has the first-year coach frustrated.
"Obviously, we need to improve our ability to play with discipline, especially on the road and at beginning of games because that's pretty much what happened in the last game on the road," said Saban, referring to last month's 17-7 loss to the host New York Jets. "I think having poise and ability to execute is critical when you're playing in tough situations. In some kind of way, we've got to find a psychological balance so we can do that.
"I know you're going to ask me what I'm going to do about it. I'm going to tell you right now I'm not sure. But it's not going to change until everybody assumes responsibility for it and everybody does their part to improve and be responsible to get it fixed."
--WR David Boston was declared inactive for the first time this season against Buffalo because of a knee problem that is still being diagnosed by the team.
--CB Kiwaukee Thomas was activated for the first time this season against Buffalo and played on special teams.
--CB Eddie Jackson replaced Reggie Howard as Miami's nickel cornerback against Buffalo and was beaten on a 49-yard catch by WR Lee Evans that set up the Bills' first touchdown. Jackson later left the game with a strained hamstring.
--LB Eddie Moore injured his right knee playing on special teams against Buffalo and didn't return.
--FB Sammy Morris missed playing time against Buffalo because of a twisted ankle but later returned.
Still working through a bizarre situation at quarterback and with their offense off to a sputtering start, the Jets know any wins coming their way are going to be ugly.
But even though they're relying on the defense to carry them, the Jets need to pick things up offensively in order to keep the defensive unit fresh and productive.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma might be good for 15 tackles a game keying the Jets run defense, but can he be expected to be as productive a month from now when the defense is on the field 35 minutes a game?
But for now, the Jets will take solace in the fact that quarterback Vinny Testaverde proved more than serviceable despite not having played for nine months and having less than two weeks to study the new playbook.
"My goal was to get the guys to believe in me, so we can get the season turned around," Testaverde said. "I think they believe in me. I believe in them."
Testaverde was picked off once and didn't throw a touchdown but was clutch down the stretch, going 3-for-3 for 32 yards in the Jets' first drive of the second half, one that led to a Curtis Martin touchdown and a lead the team would hold the rest of the game.
"It's a step in the right direction," receiver and longtime Testaverde teammate Wayne Chrebet said.
The Jets will stay with Testaverde at least until Jay Fiedler returns from a rotator-cuff injury, likely to keep him out another six weeks or so.
Entering the game to an ovation from the home crowd, quarterback Vinny Testaverde did just enough to help the Jets to a 14-12 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday. He finished the day completing 13 of 19 passes for 163 yards.
Despite just 59 yards of offense and a time of possession of just over seven minutes in the first half, the Jets rallied in the third quarter to take the lead for good on a 1-yard touchdown run by Curtis Martin, his second score of the game.
The Jets kept themselves in the game, once again, with their solid defense. They held the Bucs to just four field goals, 84 yards rushing and just 2-for-14 on third downs. The Jets also held the Bucs out of field-goal range as Tampa Bay tried to rally in the final minute.
--RB Derrick Blaylock suffered a broken foot against Tampa Bay and will be lost for the rest of the season. The Jets could give extra carries to fullback Jerald Sowell but likely will use rookie Cedric Houston as the primary backup to Curtis Martin.
--TE Doug Jolley got his first start of the season, technically, because the Jets started the game with a two-tight end set with Jolley and Chris Baker. Jolley, however, contributed with three catches for 46 yards, including a 22-yarder.
--K Mike Nugent isn't looking good from 40 yards out, missing from 40 and 48 yards against the Buccaneers.
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