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Miami Falls Apart In Loss To Buffalo

December 30, 1995

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ The Miami Dolphins prayed for a road game against Buffalo, then their defense stayed home.

The Dolphins, motivated by a fresh start against the Bills in the first round of the playoffs, opened with their worst two quarters this year and watched Buffalo roll to a 37-22 victory on Saturday.

``It was Nightmare on One Bills Drive,″ Dolphins defensive end Jeff Cross said. ``All the problems we had this season surfaced today. It was bad from start to finish.″

Miami went into the game trying to stop the run, yet allowed an AFC playoff record 341 yards rushing to Buffalo. Thurman Thomas, who had beaten them repeatedly in the past, gained 113 yards before halftime. By then, the game was over, and the Dolphins’ once promising season was history.

Bryan Cox did not need to provide the embarrassment this time for the Dolphins, who looked lethargic for three quarters before picking up a pair of late touchdowns.

It didn’t take long for the Bills to roll over the Miami defense.

``There’s a certain adrenalin on the sidelines,″ Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent said. ``I didn’t see it. I didn’t feel it. You would get to the guys on the sideline, and they were on Cloud 9. I don’t like to be critical of my teammates, but they let me down.″

The Dolphins really let down themselves and coach Don Shula, who has been under intense pressure from media and fans in Miami after going through a miserable season with what was called a Super Bowl team.

Buffalo’s line produced huge holes, and the Bills pounded the Dolphins through the middle on their first two drives and moved the ball on reverses in the third.

When the Dolphins caught up with the ball carriers, they missed tackles. When Buffalo got tired of running, Jim Kelly had plenty of time to find wide open receivers.

``It was an attitude game. They had it, and they made the plays,″ Dolphins safety Louis Oliver said. ``We couldn’t stop the run, and we couldn’t stop the pass. Once they get those two things going, you are in deep trouble.″

Kelly found holes in Miami’s secondary most of the game and helped former special teams ace Steve Tasker to his first 100-yard receiving game by halftime.

Thomas finished with 158 yards, and Holmes and Tim Tindale combined for 155 more. Veteran receiver Bill Brooks, who had 28 yards rushing, outgained each of Miami’s backs for the game.

Shula looked toward defensive coordinator Tom Olivadotti for answers in the second half, but the game already had been decided. Olivadotti got closer to Thomas than some of his starters when he was plowed over by the Bills runner along the sidelines.

``It was probably the best thing that happened to me in that game,″ Olivadotti said.

Dan Marino had little choice but to throw against one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the league. Dolphins receivers dropped 10 passes, and Miami’s running game had 18 yards in the second half.

Marino put together two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, when the Bills had already started their celebration along the sideline and began thinking about Pittsburgh.

``It was like we weren’t even out there,″ Vincent said.

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