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BUFFALO 23, MIAMI 10

Lucas Fails to Execute Dolphins' Backup Plan

October 21, 2002|From Associated Press

MIAMI — The Buffalo Bills had the better quarterback, which was no surprise. They also had the better defense, which was a shock.

Taking advantage of an erratic effort by Miami backup quarterback Ray Lucas, the Bills came up with four interceptions -- their first this season -- and recovered two fumbles to beat the Dolphins, 23-10, Sunday.

Nate Clements tied a team record with three interceptions for the Bills, who began the game last in the NFL with four takeaways.

"We said that when they come, they're going to come in bunches, and they did today," Clements said.

He returned his second interception 29 yards for a touchdown to put the Bills ahead to stay in the second quarter.

Buffalo, which went 3-13 last season, improved to 4-3 and closed within a game of Miami (5-2) in the AFC East.

"It puts us right back in the middle of the race," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. "It was a big game for our defense. They stepped up and caused turnovers, and we were able to capitalize."

While the Bills committed no turnovers and scored on a 70-yard pass play from Bledsoe to Eric Moulds, Lucas played poorly in his first NFL start since 1999. He was replacing Jay Fiedler, who is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks because of a broken right thumb suffered last week in a victory over Denver.

"The way I played today was probably the worst a quarterback has ever played in the history of the NFL," Lucas said. "I don't think I've ever thrown four picks since I was born. I embarrassed myself.... I probably won't sleep for the next three days."

Lucas capped a 57-yard drive with a touchdown pass on the Dolphins' first possession but finished having completed 13 for 33 passes for 165 yards. Besides the interceptions, at least three other passes went off the hands of a defender.

Miami's two lost fumbles came when Lucas was hit as he handed off and on a bad exchange between him and running back Ricky Williams, who had 97 yards in 25 carries.

"Six turnovers against a team that's averaging 35 points a game -- it's going to be tough winning," Miami Coach Dave Wannstedt said. "It was remarkable that the game was as close as it was."

By the third quarter, fans were booing Lucas' errant throws. It didn't help that he worked with an injury-depleted receiving corps that was missing starters Chris Chambers (concussion) and Oronde Gadsden (wrist).

This week, Miami is expected to lure Cris Carter, the NFL's second all-time leading pass catcher, out of retirement.

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