ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – J.P. Losman kept Buffalo’s slim playoff hopes alive and provided further proof why he’s earned the Bills’ starting job beyond this season.

Losman overcame wet and blustery conditions, throwing three touchdown passes in a 21-0 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Buffalo (7-7) has won five of its last seven, rallying from a 2-5 start to the season.

The Dolphins (6-8), coming off a 21-0 win over New England, were eliminated from postseason contention despite losing for only the second time in seven weeks.

The Bills defense was solid, forcing two interceptions while limiting the Dolphins to 118 yards through three quarters and 212 overall. It was Buffalo’s first shutout since a 2003 season-opening 31-0 win over New England, and first against the Dolphins since a 29-0 win in November 1987.

Bills cornerback Nate Clements continued a string of strong games against Miami, registering his ninth interception against the AFC East rival. It came on Miami’s first play of the second half, and on the next play after Jason Taylor had forced a Losman fumble to give the Dolphins the ball at the Bills 44.

Losman was otherwise efficient in finishing 13-of-19 for 200 yards passing. He rebounded from the fumble by hitting Josh Reed over the middle for a 27-yard TD catch and run to put the Bills up 14-0 midway through the third quarter.

Losman also hit a wide-open Robert Royal for a 33-yard touchdown to open the scoring, and sealed the win with a perfectly placed 21-yard touch pass to Lee Evans early in the fourth quarter.

It was a performance that came after Bills coach Dick Jauron announced this week that Losman had earned the right to be the team’s starter going into next season. Losman was twice benched last year and forced to regain the starting job during a three-way offseason competition before this season.

The second of Buffalo’s two 2004 first-round draft picks, Losman has now thrown 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in his past seven games.

Miami’s Joey Harrington went 5-of-17 for 20 yards passing and two interceptions before being pulled in favor of Cleo Lemon in the fourth quarter. Sammy Morris had 71 yards rushing.

The weather didn’t help. The game was played in wet and blustery conditions, with winds gusting up to 25 mph. But at least it was relatively balmy – the game-time temperature was 54 degrees – for Orchard Park in December.

The Dolphins twice elected against testing the wind with field-goal attempts, but failed to convert fourth-down attempts – including a fourth-and-1 at the Bills 24 – on their first two possessions.

Losman was at his best during Buffalo’s first scoring drive, marching the Bills 67 yards on four plays into the wind.

He hit Evans up the left sideline with a perfectly placed pass for a 37-yard catch. Two plays later, Losman looked off free safety Yeremiah Bell, and turned to his right to find Royal standing alone at the 3.

The Dolphins’ offense was unable to find its rhythm in Miami’s first visit to Buffalo since former Bills head coach Mike Mularkey resigned in January and became the Dolphins coordinator.

After Morris had 57 yards rushing through the first quarter, the Dolphins switched to the pass, which proved ineffective. After producing five first downs on their first three possessions, the Dolphins went three-and-out on five of their next six possessions – the other ending in a Harrington interception – while managing 15 yards offense.

AP-ES-12-17-06 1612EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.