QB switch pays off

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

ORCHARD PARK -- This Kelly will never be confused with the famous Kelly, the one who carried the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowl appearances.

No, Kelly Holcomb isn't Jim Kelly.

Nor is he likely to be the quarterback of the future for the Bills, or any NFL team for that matter.

But for now, the veteran backup was just what the struggling squad and its restless fans needed.

With Holcomb adequate in replacement of benched first-year starter J.P. Losman, the Bills righted their ship yesterday, escaping with a 20-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.

It certainly was enough for the 72,160 Miami haters crammed into Ralph Wilson Stadium. On the way in, they wiped their feet on Dolphins jerseys. Once inside, they reveled in the misery of the players who wear them.

MILD MUTINY

Never mind that the Bills' ship was facing a mild mutiny after the team slipped to a 1-3 record a week ago. Or that the Dolphins as much as handed this one to their supposedly fierce division rival.

For now, the natives are happy and with a home win over the New York Jets next week would put the Bills at .500 and in the middle of the AFC East race.

"There is no such thing as an ugly win in the NFL," said Holcomb, who completed 20 of 26 for 169 yards. "I don't want to say it was a must-win, but it sure felt like it."

There was enough evidence to dispute Holcomb's standards on ugly. The Bills were assisted by a team-record 18 Dolphins penalties and five turnovers, including three interceptions thrown by quarterback Gus Frerotte.

"There was a feeling of frustration (at 1-3), yes, but that's what our record shows until we go out and show otherwise," Buffalo's Troy Vincent said. "That's why this was so big."

A veteran uprising had been festering as it became apparent Losman's learning curve had some arc to it. Most vocal was Eric Moulds who, until yesterday's two-yard catch, hadn't had a touchdown pass in eight games.

"I know I was excited to get (Holcomb) in there," said Moulds, who had seven catches for 59 yards. "When you've got a young guy, you kind of limit the game plan. You can't really put too much on him. He can get confused at times.

"If you've got a veteran guy (who has) played a long time, you can put more on his plate."

Bills safety Lawyer Milloy was more subtle in his endorsement of Holcomb. With a Willis McGahee run, a 24-yard Rian Lindell field goal and Moulds' catch, the Bills scored on each of their first three possessions to open up a 17-0 lead. That allowed the Bills defence to attack.

"Our offence put some points on the board and it forced their offence to throw the ball," Milloy said. "The past few weeks because the (Bills) offence didn't really score points, the (opponents) didn't have to throw the ball."

Even with the turnovers, the Dolphins were in it until the final two minutes. Trailing 20-14, Miami was driving until rookie Ronnie Brown fumbled on the Bills 14-yard line.

When Vincent jumped on the loose ball, it triggered a victory celebration with a chaser of relief.

"It's amazing what one victory can do," linebacker London Fletcher said. "It does wonders for the morale.

"We still have a lot of work to do. By no stretch of the imagination are we comfortable with what happened."

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- THE DIFFERENCE: Bills' Nate Clements forced Ronnie Brown's fumble in the final minutes to preserve the win.

- RUSHING LEADERS:

MIA: Brown, 97 yds

BUF: McGahee, 86 yds

- PASSING LEADERS:

MIA: Frerotte, 226 yds

BUF: Holcomb, 169 yds

- RECEIVING LEADERS:

MIA: Booker, 72 yds

BUF: Evans, 65 yds


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