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Spiller a beacon in dark defeat

Posted Sep 10, 2012

In a game where nothing seemed to go right for the Bills, running back C.J. Spiller was Buffalo’s lone bright spot in a 48-28 loss to the New York Jets.

Spiller finished his career day with 14 carries for 169 yards and one touchdown. His 12.1-yard rushing average is the second-highest single game rushing average in franchise history. Spiller’s performance marked the most rushing yards by a Bill on Kickoff Weekend since O.J. Simpson’s 173-yard performance on Sep. 21, 1975 against the Jets.

His day also marked the most rushing yards by a Bill since Fred Jackson ran for 212 yards against the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 3, 2010.

After the 20-point loss Spiller was more focused on the team’s collective performance than his own.

“Of course it was disappointing,” said Spiller. “Just the turnovers, the big one that I had with the pass, that was huge. We could’ve probably got some points out of that.”

On the first play of a Bills two-minute drive at the end of the first half, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick launched a strike to Spiller at midfield that covered 30 yards, but Jets safety LaRon Landry knocked the ball out and the Jets recovered the fumble.

Referees reviewed the play to see if Spiller had complete control of the ball. The play was upheld and the Jets tacked on another field goal with 12 seconds remaining to push to halftime lead to 27-7.

“I didn’t think I fully had possession of it, but I’ve just got to do a better job of bringing it in,” said Spiller. “My quarterback did a great job of putting it right where he’d been told to put it in training camp. It’s my job to bring it in. I can’t leave it up to the refs.”

After running back Fred Jackson left the game with a knee injury early in the second quarter, Spiller took over full-time duties in the offensive backfield, much like he did last season over the final six games and was extremely productive.

Down 21-0, Spiller took a carry from his own 44, broke two tackles and raced for the end zone on his way to a 56-yard touchdown and the Bills first points of the year.

“My offensive line did a great job of hatting those guys up,” he said. “I saw that I was going to have to keep it front side from the blitz they were bringing. We always say there’s going to be one man that we have to beat. I saw it was 30 (LaRon Landry), and the way he was playing it I thought I had a chance to outrun him and broke a couple tackles and was able to get in the end zone.”

Head coach Chan Gailey appreciated Spiller’s big play ability on a day where quality play was lacking.

“(He had a) couple of huge runs,” said Gailey. “He made some big plays, which we saw last year. He’s capable of doing that. We’re going to keep running him because we can score as fast with him running it as we can throwing the football. It was a good job by him and we’re going to have to rely on him a lot more until we get Fred back.”

Fitzpatrick also credited Spiller for taking advantage of the opportunity he had.

“C.J. picked up where he left off last year,” he said. “He finished the year so strong and when he was given his opportunity today he really did some nice things. I think if you look at one bright spot it was him.”

Spiller said he’s ready for the role he’ll have to takeover if Jackson is shelved for the next game or more.

“I think I’ve prepared myself,” he said. “I had a great offseason, a full, true NFL offseason. Of course it hurts to have our leader go down, especially the leader in our running back room. But we always preach that the next man has to step up. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we get 22 back as soon as possible.”