AFC Championship

January 17, 1993

Buffalo Bills (13-5) vs. Miami Dolphins (12-5)

Site: Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami

Time: 12:30 p.m.

TV: Channels 2, 4

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Line: Bills by 2 1/2

Weather: Sunny, temperature in the low 70s

Last week: The Bills eliminated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-3, and the Dolphins beat the San Diego Chargers, 31-0, in divisional-round games.

The series: Miami leads, 36-18-1, but Buffalo has won five of the past six. The teams split the season series this year. The Dolphins won 37-10 in Buffalo, and the Bills won 26-20 in Miami.

Last meeting: The Bills overcame a 14-3 deficit and beat the dTC Dolphins 26-20 in a Monday night game on Nov. 16. RB Kenneth Davis scored two TDs, and Steve Christie kicked four field goals for the Bills, who sacked Miami QB Dan Marino four times.

On the sidelines: In his 12th year as an NFL head coach, Marv Levy has a record of 105-81, and is 74-39 with the Bills. In his 30th year as an NFL head coach, Don Shula has a record of 318-150-6.

What the Bills have to do to win: Pressure Marino, as they did the last time they played. The Bills' defense tied for first in the league against the run. Until last week, when Aaron Craver and Bobby Humphrey ran successfully, Miami hadn't gotten much out of the running game. On offense, the Bills will need a big comeback from QB Jim Kelly, who missed the past three games with a sprained knee. Kelly threw for 518 yards in two games against the Dolphins this season, but threw four interceptions in the loss in October. Buffalo's most dangerous runner, Thurman Thomas, has been hampered the past two weeks with a hip pointer, but the Bills have a more-than-competent backup in Davis.

What the Dolphins have to do to win: Protect Marino from the pass rush, possibly by rolling him out of the pocket as they did when they upset the great Chicago Bears' team in 1985. If Marino can get enough time, his receivers should get open. Last week, the Bills' secondary blanketed the Steelers' receivers. As a result, QB Neil O'Donnell often threw into coverage, and was intercepted twice. Also, the Dolphins must contain the Bills' running game, whether it's Thomas or Davis. Miami's defense played a perfect game against San Diego and gets another big test today.

Injury report: Bills: LB Cornelius Bennett (hamstring), LB Shane Conlan (groin), CB Kirby Jackson (hamstring), QB Jim Kelly (knee), DE Bruce Smith (ribs), RB Thurman Thomas (hip) are probable. Dolphins: DE Marco Coleman (ankle), G Harry Galbreath (finger), TE Keith Jackson (shoulder), RB Bobby Humphrey (flu) are probable.

Outlook: The warm weather and lack of a week off could catch up with the Bills in the fourth quarter at Miami. The quarterback situation could unravel sooner, if Kelly can't play or Reich isn't effective. The Dolphins have a lot going for them, including the bye week and a substantially improved defense. Miami manhandled a good, multidimensional San Diego team last week. Now the Dolphins have to do it again. They also have the determination of Marino to get back to the Super Bowl in what could be his final shot. Both defenses are playing well, which means the game could be decided by turnovers.

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