MIAMI (AP)—Even in the late-afternoon shadows covering the end zone, Chris Chambers was easy to spot, leaping to make the reception that capped the best day of his NFL career and the Miami Dolphins’ biggest comeback victory since 1974.
With the game up for grabs, Chambers curled into the end zone and outmaneuvered cornerback Jabari Greer for his 15th reception of the game.
“It was a jump-ball situation,” Chambers said. “You have to go up and get it.”
Lee Evans caught three touchdown passes to put the Bills ahead 21-0 less than 13 minutes into the game, and they led 23-3 in the final period.
“You can’t play like the game was over, but maybe we played like the game was over,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “We didn’t finish the job.”
Struggling Miami quarterback Gus Frerotte was forced to the bench with a concussion in the third quarter, and Rosenfels directed fourth-quarter touchdown drives of 70, 49 and 73 yards.
“We really like for everyone to get their money’s worth,” coach Nick Saban joked. “You talk about playing 60 minutes, and it’s a cliche, but this was an example of that today.”
Alas, only 25,000 fans remained from the announced crowd of 72,051 when the Dolphins began their final march with 1:51 left trailing 23-17.
A catch by Chambers gave Miami a first down at the 1 with 50 seconds to go, but two incomplete passes, a penalty and a scramble by Rosenfels made it fourth down with the clock running and less than 30 seconds left.
“I took a quick, deep breath and said, `Relax,”’ Rosenfels said. “The clock was running. We figured whatever coverage they were in, the best play was to throw it up for Chris.”
The taller Chambers won a duel for the ball even though Greer was flagged for interference. Saban hollered and punched the air while teammates mobbed Chambers, who set Miami records for catches and yards receiving with 238. Both totals were the highest in the NFL since 2002.
The victory gave the Dolphins (5-7) back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and they beat a division rival for the first time in four tries to remain in playoff contention in the woeful AFC East. First-place New England (7-5) also won.
The stunned Bills (4-8) were all but eliminated from the postseason race. They fell to 0-6 on the road, and the latest loss hurt the worst.
“I’ve seen it happen many times on TV, but to have it happen to you really smacks you in the face,” quarterback J.P. Losman said. “Nobody will know how this feels unless they’ve been in the locker room. I can’t really describe it, because I’m no Shakespeare.”
Losman hit Evans for touchdown passes of 46, 56 and 4 yards but missed chances to close out the victory, losing a fumble on a sack and throwing an interception to end scoring threats. The Bills failed to score on their final 10 possessions.
The Dolphins looked inept for much of the game themselves, dropping at least eight passes—including three by Chambers—and committing six false starts.
But Rosenfels gave Miami an immediate spark, coming on after Frerotte was hurt when sacked by London Fletcher for a safety early in the third quarter.
Ricky Williams’ 5-yard run made the score 23-10, and after the Dolphins forced a punt, they quickly struck again on the first touchdown reception of rookie running Ronnie Brown’s career. He caught a swing pass from Rosenfels, hurdled a defender and dove across the pylon for a 23-yard score, making it 23-17 with 7:35 to go.
Miami reached midfield with 3 minutes left, but defensive end Aaron Schobel leaped to intercept Rosenfels. Another punt gave the Dolphins one last chance— and that was all they needed.
“Right now,” Fletcher said, “I’m thinking, ‘How did we lose this game?”’
Dolphins DE Jason Taylor played much of the game with his right shoulder in a strap. He said he’ll undergo an MRI exam Monday. … Bills G Chris Villarrial missed the second half with a hamstring injury. … TE Mark Campbell (hamstring) was inactive for the Bills. LB Zach Thomas (ankle/hamstring), DT Keith Traylor (knee) and WR Marty Booker (calf) were inactive for Miami. … Miami CB Sam Madison made his first interception since 2003. … The Dolphins threw a team-record 65 passes.