BY Steven Wine
The Associated Press
A gimpy Fred Jackson said he’ll be fine. As for the rest of the Buffalo Bills, the outlook is more bleak.
Jackson sat out much of the second half with a bruised right calf, and the injury-plagued Bills continued their downward spiral by losing to the Miami Dolphins 35-8 Sunday.
Interceptions on passes that deflected off receivers led to two Miami touchdowns. The Bills fumbled four times, and while they recovered them all, they went 0 for 14 on third- and fourth-down conversions — a rate of futility that left coach Chan Gailey shaking his head.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been through that before, ever,” Gailey said. “When you’re that bad, you’re having a pitiful day.”
The Bills (5-5) have been outscored 106-26 while losing three in a row.
“We’re baffled as to what has happened,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “For the past three weeks, it has not been fun to play, and I’m sure it has not been fun to watch.”
Along with bruised pride, the injuries mounted. Cornerback Terrence McGee (left knee) was carted off the field in the second period and is probably out for the season, Gailey said. Receiver Donald Jones (left ankle) was also carted away in the second quarter and might be out three to six weeks, Gailey said.
Jackson aggravated a calf injury, but X-rays were negative.
“I’ll be all right. It’s just a bruise right now,” he said. “I’ll get some treatment on it this week and see what happens.”
While the Bills are reeling, the Dolphins (3-7) have reversed a dismal start with three consecutive victories, winning by a combined score of 86-20. An improving defense has led the turnaround by keeping the opposition out of the end zone for three consecutive games.
“You can see how good we can be,” said safety Yeremiah Bell, who made an interception. “This is where we expected to be at the beginning of the season. It just took us awhile.”
The Dolphins’ fifth and final TD came on a blocked punt by Chris Clemons, which Lex Hilliard recovered on the goal line for a 35-6 lead. That ended punter Brian Moorman’s streak of 735 kicks without a block, the third-longest such streak in NFL history.
“We lost as a team in every phase,” Gailey said. “We’re not very good right now.”
Miami made a goal-line stand midway through the second half, stopping the Bills four times after they had a first down at the 2.
The Dolphins scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and led 21-3 after 18 minutes. Matt Moore threw little after that and finished 14 for 20 for 160 yards and three scores.
“Guys around me are making big plays and making it easy for the quarterback,” Moore said. “It’s such a good feeling.”
Fitzpatrick, who has yet to win a game since signing a $59 million, six-year contract last month, was sacked twice and had a rating of 45.8. He has 12 turnovers in the past six games.
Jackson was held to 17 yards on seven carries, and by the third quarter the Bills’ ineptitude had become farcical. On one play, the wet ball slipped out of Fitzpatrick’s hand as he prepared to pass, so he caught it and tried again, throwing a short completion. Even hiking the ball was problematic for the Bills, with Fitzpatrick forced to reach for several errant snaps.
The past three weeks, the Bills have totaled two touchdowns, and one came during garbage time.
Buffalo took the opening kickoff and drove for a field goal, then went 25 minutes without a first down. Bad field position hurt the Bills, who started eight possessions inside their 20.
Miami mounted an 87-yard drive on its first possession, capped by Moore’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano.
The Dolphins forced a punt, then struck again. Moore’s 46-yard pass to Charles Clay set up a 5-yard scoring run by Reggie Bush.
When Nolan Carroll intercepted a pass that slipped through the hands of Buffalo’s Brad Smith, Miami was in business again at the Bills 23. Moore then threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Clay for the rookie’s first career TD.
Late in the first half, Bell intercepted a pass that deflected off David Nelson and returned it to the Buffalo 4. Moore then hit Davone Bess with a 4-yard scoring pass for a 28-3 lead.
“It was Murphy’s Law,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong.”
NOTES: The Dolphins are the third NFL team to win three consecutive games at any point after starting a season 0-7. ... The Bills’ Dave Rayner kicked a career-long 56-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. ... Buffalo outgained Miami 247 yards to 242.