On C.J. Spiller's first three carries of the game he had a grand total of minus-16 yards. Buffalo's offense didn't go very far on their opening drive either, but things changed dramatically for the first team offense after that. Trent Edwards and company put together three first half scoring drives with Spiller at the center of the action as Buffalo's first team offense looked primed and ready for the season in a 35-20 victory over Cincinnati.
"Our line just had to get adjusted to how they were playing them and once they did that it kind of made our job easier, opening up running lanes and giving Trent time to throw the ball," said Spiller. "That's all we need. You saw that we can be explosive."
Bills head coach Chan Gailey was a bit more reserved in his assessment.
"We did some good things," he said. "We've got to make adjustments quicker and faster, and as time goes on, we'll hopefully be able to do that in all phases of it. It's not a point of concern, but it's definitely something we're looking at, and we need to make sure we start faster.
Spiller had a pair of first half touchdown runs, both of which came in the second quarter turning a 14-7 deficit into a 21-14 lead at the half. The Bills top pick eluded tacklers, out ran defenders to the corner and picked up extra yardage with ease.
"I just try to put it in my head that I've got (the corner)," said Spiller. "I just trust in my speed and trust in my ability and there were a couple of runs that got away from me when I should've just went down and there were a couple of runs that worked out for me. So I understand that this is a fast league, but I also have to have the confidence and belief in myself that I can get it done."
"That young guy is a lot of excitement man, you just give him a little lane and he'll just take it the rest of the way for you," said right tackle Cornell Green. "He makes the job a lot easier for us as offensive linemen. Glad to have him. Real glad to have him."
In the second quarter alone Spiller had three plays of 20 yards or more. The last two of those coming at the tail end of Buffalo's two-minute drive to break a 14-14 tie late in the first half. After a Trent Edwards pass to Steve Johnson moved the Bills into Cincinnati territory, Edwards followed with a screen pass to Spiller on the left side.
The speedy back got a good lead block from Andy Levitre and was off to the races down the near sideline picking up 26 yards to the Cincinnati 20. Head coach Chan Gailey gave the ball right back to his top pick on the next play and Spiller beat the entire Bengals defense to the left corner and turned it up field down the near sideline for a 20-yard touchdown run.
"I just saw that it was wide open, our offensive line did a great job blocking and I always know I'm going to have to beat the safety," said Spiller. "So I just gave him a move and the receiver, Lee (Evans) did a great job out there blocking on Pacman and it just made it easy."
Spiller's two quarters of work yielded 52 yards on 12 carries. He also a pair of receptions for 33 yards.
Edwards was also sharp in directing the offense going 13-17 passing for 153 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 122.9.
"I just felt like we got in a good rhythm early on and we stuck with it," said Edwards. "The guys up front battled for me and blocked their front four. That makes my job and C.J.'s job a lot easier."
The game's pace got off to a quick start as Cincinnati jumped right into a no huddle attack and got down the field in a hurry following a 51-yard kick return by Adam Jones to open the game. After a 17-yard reception by Chad Ochocino set up 1st-and-goal at the nine-yard line, Carson Palmer hit a wide open rookie Jermaine Gresham for a nine-yard touchdown reception on what appeared to be a blown coverage. It put the Bengals up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Buffalo's offense however, would tie the score on the ensuing possession. After a first down carry by C.J. Spiller was blown up by the Bengals defensive line, the Bills were facing a 2nd-and-21 situation at their own 32. But Trent Edwards made three straight completions hitting David Nelson (14 yards), Lee Evans (8 yards) and Roscoe Parrish (8 yards) to keep the chains moving.
After a personal foul penalty was assessed against Cincinnati, Buffalo had 1st-and-10 at the 12-yard line. Edwards found a streaking Parrish on a crossing pattern and the slot receiver did the rest racing to the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown reception to tie the score at seven with just over four minutes left in the first quarter.
"That's a route we've been working on since OTAs and training camp," said Parrish. "You've just got to get good at your craft, especially when you've got a play that's been in since day one and you've run it so much and that was one of those plays."
"He's a guy that's a playmaker in our offense and we're going to put him in the slot and match him up against their outside linebacker or best nickel DB and I just need to do a good job of getting on the same page with him," said Edwards. "And if that can be a big part of our offense that's tough to stop right there. Roscoe in the slot is a tough player to stop."
The Bengals responded with a nine-play 63-yard drive that was capped by a Carson Palmer six-yard touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco for a 14-7 edge early in the second quarter. But the Spiller show took over from there.
In the second half Ryan Fitzpatrick led the second team offense and directed a nine-play 74-yard touchdown drive, which he finished with a 20-yard strike over the middle to David Nelson to put the Bills up 11 midway through the third quarter (28-17).
Cincinnati came back with six straight points on a pair of field goal drives to close the gap to eight to start the fourth quarter (28-20), but Reggie Corner put the game out of reach with a 20-yard interception return off Jordan Palmer with 10 minutes left in the game (35-20).
Buffalo closes out their preseason in five days with a road game at Detroit on Sept. 2. Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm.