Visions of a 6-1 record were dancing in heads all across Western New York when the Buffalo Bills scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter Sunday.
It put the Bills ahead of the Miami Dolphins, 16-7.
The Bills' momentum lasted all of one snap.
Miami speedster Ted Ginn caught a 64-yard pass on the first play of Miami's next possession. The Dolphins owned the game from that point on.
Miami outscored the Bills, 18-0, over the final 24 minutes en route to a 25-16 victory.
"You take your hats off to them," said Bills receiver Lee Evans. "They did a great job. They made the plays. But we didn't give ourselves a chance with the turnovers. . . . It's hard to overcome turnovers."
Over the final 15 minutes, the Bills coughed up four turnovers and allowed a safety.
The Buffalo offense let the game get away with two turnovers in Miami territory in the first 3:19 of the fourth quarter. On the first play of the period, Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was hit from behind as he threw. His pass fluttered in the air and was picked off at the Miami 36 by cornerback Will Allen.
Three minutes later, Edwards had the Bills marching at the Miami 33. But on a third-and-1 play, Edwards ran a keeper up the middle and reached the ball out over the line of scrimmage. Miami linebacker Joey Porter snatched it away.
Meanwhile, the Bills' defense let the game get away by failing to cover Ginn, who hauled in seven passes for 175 yards. All but four of those yards came against Bills cornerback Terrence McGee, who was lacking his usual speed in his first game back from a sprained knee injury.
"It's about big plays and turnovers," Bills coach Dick Jauron said. "When you get that many big plays and that many turnovers, it's hard to recover. It's just really hard to recover."
Buffalo (5-2) is tied atop the AFC East with New England (5-2), with the New York Jets (4-3) one game back. The Bills host the Jets next week and visit the Patriots in two weeks.
Miami, which went 1-15 last year, improved to 3-4 and proved it will have an impact on the division race.
"I think this shows you how competitive this league is and how close a 2-4 team versus a 5-1 team is," Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington said.
The Bills proved they are not good enough to overcome self-inflicted mistakes.
Edwards' interception came with the Bills trailing, 17-16.
Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks broke into the Bills' backfield off Edwards' blind side and hit him as he released the ball.
"Lee was on the shallow route and James [Hardy] was on the deep dig," Edwards said. "Lee was coming open into the zone, and right as I released it I kind of felt my arm get hit. I knew as I hit the ground it was up in the air. . . . It's one of those plays where you step up, or you feel that [pressure] a little bit differently or you get it out of your hands a little bit quicker."
That led to a field goal that put Miami ahead, 20-16.
Edwards' fumble, which foiled a promising drive, was a mistake of inexperience.
"He's a young quarterback, and he's performed at such a high level," Jauron said. "It was a mistake. It was one I don't think he'll make again."
"He tried to put the ball out for the first down and it was right in my face," Porter said. "So automatically I was thinking, 'I'm going to take that.' The whistle didn't blow."
The play didn't directly result in Miami points. But the Dolphins were able to march into Buffalo territory and pin the Bills back at their own 3 with a well-placed Brandon Fields punt.
Three plays later, Edwards was sacked in the end zone by Porter. He fumbled and Duke Preston fell on the ball for a Miami safety and a 22-16 Dolphins lead. Bills tackle Jason Peters gave up an inside pass rush lane, and Porter ran through a chip-block assist by guard Derrick Dockery.
"The lineman [Peters] was jumping me [to the outside] all day," Porter said. "I took an inside move."
The Dolphins' defense did a decent job much of the game on first and second downs. When they got the Bills in third down, they were able to drop back in coverage.
"There was a lot of three-man pressures," Jauron said, "so [Edwards] had a chance to hold it. They did a nice job in coverage."
The Bills' defense held Miami to just 52 rushing yards on 27 carries, a 1.9-yard average. Miami's Wildcat formation, with running back Ronnie Brown taking the shotgun snap, produced 34 yards in seven plays.
But Ginn made up for the lack of a running game.
The game was the first 100-yard outing for the Ohio State product, the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft.
Ginn, who ran a 40-yard dash time of 4.3 seconds before last year's draft, beat McGee for a 46-yard completion on Miami's first play in addition to the 64-yarder.
"The secondary laid back and he used his speed to get open," Miami receiver Greg Camarillo said. "It's a matter of what the defense gives us. If they leave one person on Ted and they don't protect the deep ball, he can abuse it all day."
McGee, however, was not in position to play press coverage against Ginn on the line of scrimmage because of his knee.
Asked if he thought McGee was 100 percent entering the game, Jauron said, "No, we didn't going in, but he was well enough to play. I wouldn't put a percentage on what he was, but we need him back and he was good enough to play."
On both deep balls to Ginn, the Dolphins caught the Bills on plays in which they were not in a Cover 2 defense and McGee did not have deep safety help.
Miami quarterback Chad Pennington was 22 of 30 for 314 yards.
Miami threw the ball on 16 of 26 first-down plays, 10 percent more than its usual first-down average.
"There were a few plays where situationally you would have thought run and they passed," Bills safety Bryan Scott said. ". . . Chad is a great quarterback who manages the game well. He knows when to take his shots and when to keep it short to intermediate to keep the chains moving."