ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – No matter who the Bills starting quarterback was, Nate Clements and Buffalo’s veteran defense wouldn’t let this one get away.

With Buffalo on the verge of squandering a 17-0 lead, Clements stripped Miami running back Ronnie Brown of the ball, securing the Bills’ 20-14 win over the Dolphins on Sunday.

The turnover, Miami’s fifth of the game, came with 1:37 left and with the Dolphins threatening inside the Bills 30.

Gus Frerotte hit Brown with a short pass over the middle. Brown cut to his right and was caught from behind by London Fletcher. Clements ran up and stripped the ball before Brown was down, and Troy Vincent recovered on the Bills 18.

The Bills (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak and gave Kelly Holcomb a win, the veteran backup getting his first start of the season in place of J.P. Losman.

Holcomb completed 11 of his first 15 attempts and engineered scoring drives on Buffalo’s first three possessions. Except for Rian Lindell’s 47-yard field goal, that’s all the Bills could muster, putting the game in the hands of their defense.

The unit responded. After Brown’s fumble, Miami got the ball back at midfield with 21 seconds remaining, but Frerotte was sacked twice.

Holcomb finished 20-of-26 for 169 yards and a touchdown, helping revive an offense that sputtered under Losman, the first-year starter who replaced Drew Bledsoe in February. Buffalo’s 20 points were the most since a season-opening 22-7 win over Houston.

Willis McGahee had 86 yards rushing and a touchdown and Eric Moulds had 59 yards receiving and a score. Lindell also hit two field goals, including a 47-yarder.

It was a big turnaround for a Buffalo offense that managed 29 points – two touchdowns and five field goals – in the last 14 quarters.

The Dolphins (2-2), coming off a bye week, couldn’t overcome their undisciplined play.

Miami committed a franchise-record 18 penalties for 108 yards. The costliest was a holding call against linebacker Donnie Spragan that negated Vonnie Holliday’s 8-yard sack on third down. The penalty gave Buffalo a first-and-goal at the Dolphins 3, setting up Moulds’ 2-yard touchdown catch.

Frerotte went 21-of-33 for 226 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Brown had 97 yards rushing, while Miami lost for the ninth time in 10 road games.

Limited to 106 yards in the first half, the Dolphins responded when Frerotte hit Will Heller for a 1-yard touchdown pass 10 minutes into the third quarter. Frerotte then hit Randy McMichael for a 30-yard TD with 8 minutes left, capitalizing on McGahee’s fumble at the Buffalo 35.

Holcomb threw in rhythm and relied mostly on quick outs or short throws over the middle, all things Losman appeared incapable of doing. Holcomb’s first-half numbers alone – 14-of-20 for 118 yards – bettered what Losman managed in his last three outings. After throwing for 170 yards in a season-opening win against Houston, Losman had 113 against Tampa Bay and 75 each against Atlanta and New Orleans.

Holcomb’s last start was in January in the Browns’ season-ending 22-14 win against Houston. Signed by the Bills as a free agent in March, Holcomb is a nine-year NFL veteran who improved to 5-9 as a starter.

AP-ES-10-09-05 1642EDT


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