061217 BILLS4THQ1

061217 BILLS4THQ1 - SPORTS DOUG BENZ/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Buffalo Bills No. 56, Keith Ellison intercepts a pass thrown by Miami Dolphins Joey Harrington, during fourth quarter action at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006.

There were six weeks left in the regular season, the Buffalo Bills were 4-6 and coming off a thrilling victory over Houston, and wide receiver Peerless Price remembers having a conversation with a reporter about the team’s future.

“Someone asked me, ‘What do you want to accomplish over these next six weeks?’ ” said Price, who caught a last-second game-winning touchdown to deliver that victory in Houston.

“I said ‘Get six wins.’ That’s what I wanted to accomplish.”

While a loss to San Diego ruined that lofty goal, the Bills have won three of four games since then, pulling to .500 on Sunday with a 21-0 romp over the Miami Dolphins at rain-soaked Ralph Wilson Stadium. Those three victories have kept alive the Bills’ slim AFC playoff chances for another week.

“As long as we win, we’ll let the cards fall where they may fall,” Price said.

The deck remains stacked against the Bills, who still trail Cincinnati (8-5, playing Monday night in Indianapolis), Jacksonville (8-6), the New York Jets (8-6) and Denver (8-6) in the race for the two wild-card spots. They are even at 7-7 with Tennessee and Pittsburgh after those two teams won on Sunday. Kansas City (7-6) played San Diego on Sunday night.

But at least the Bills are now part of the conversation.

“I’m sure a lot of people around the country wrote us off a long time ago,” Bills linebacker London Fletcher said. “They probably thought we were already eliminated from the playoffs. People might look around and say, ’Man, Buffalo’s still in this thing.’ ”

Even if the Bills should win their last two games — at home against Tennessee on Christmas Eve and in Baltimore on New Years Eve - they will need big-time help if they hope to end their six-year postseason drought.

Still, anything is possible, and tight end Robert Royal knows it.

“I was with a team that did it,” said Royal, who played with Washington last year when the Redskins were 5-6, but won their final five games to make the playoffs. “I looked at the talent level we had with the Redskins and the talent level that we have here, and I know we’re capable of it.”

If the Bills are finally knocked out of the race next weekend, no one can fault their resolve as they battled back from a 2-5 start to remain in contention.

“It shows the character of this team,” said wide receiver Lee Evans. “We have a lot of veterans who lead this team and a lot of young guys who are willing to fight. When things weren’t looking good, we just kept pushing and things have turned around.”

On Sunday, the Bills played a dominant game against their long-time AFC East rivals from the south.

The temperature was 53 degrees at kickoff, a dream for the Dolphins, considering it was mid-December in Buffalo.

However, the Dolphins did have to deal with wind and rain, and they failed miserably.

No one flopped around like a fish out of water more than quarterback Joey Harrington, who compiled a 0.0 passer rating as he completed just 5 of 17 passes for 20 yards and threw two interceptions, both of which helped set up Buffalo touchdowns.

On the other side, Buffalo quarterback J.P. Losman had another solid performance as he threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns, a 33-yarder to Royal in the second quarter, a 27-yarder to Josh Reed in the third, and a 21-yarder to Evans in the fourth.

“I thought J.P. performed pretty well in the elements,” said Bills coach Dick Jauron. “J.P., as we’ve said all year, has steadily improved. He deserves credit.”

The game was a defensive struggle early, as neither offense could mount an attack. But then Losman hit a wide-open Royal thanks to Miami’s blown coverage, and the rout was on.

In the third quarter, Miami took possession at the Bills’ 44-yard line after a Losman fumble, but Harrington was picked off on the next play by Nate Clements. That led to Reed catching a third-down pass over the middle, bowling over two defenders and racing into the end zone to make it 14-0.

Another Harrington pick, this one by rookie linebacker Keith Ellison, set the Bills up at their own 47 early in the fourth quarter. Seven plays later, Evans toasted cornerback Andre Goodman for his touchdown.

“We felt we had to take shots, regardless of the weather conditions, and we did,” said Evans.

Said Losman: “I feel like I’m getting better playing in (bad weather) as opposed to when I first got here. Just learning those ins and outs is starting to pay off.”

In the final seconds, with backup quarterback Cleo Lemon in the game, Miami drove to the 1-yard-line, but couldn’t finish the deal.

“It was very satisfying to come off the field without being scored on,” defensive end Chris Kelsay said.

Certainly as satisfying as the team still having a pulse with two weeks left to play.

“Hopefully we can keep going,” said Jauron. “We know it’s just going to get harder, but I like the challenge and they like it.”

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