Ryan Fitzpatrick did something that no other Bills quarterback has been able to do in 59 games- throw for over 300 yards. The Bills signal caller surpassed 300 yards easily, going 29 of 43 for 374 yards and four touchdowns while throwing two interceptions with a passer rating of 106.2.
Unfortunately for him and the Bills, the result was a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens, 37-34. In one of the more exciting games in recent memory, the Bills offense demonstrated continued improvement, gaining 506 total yards.
Fitzpatrick did a good job of spreading the ball around, connecting with eight different receivers. Steve Johnson led the way with eight catches for 158 yards and one touchdown. Lee Evans tied his career high of three touchdown receptions, and had 105 yards receiving on six catches.
Fitzpatrick etched his name with Bills legend Jim Kelly by throwing three touchdown passes in back-to-back games - a feat that has not been accomplished since Kelly did it in weeks five and six in 1990. This is even more impressive considering this was done on the road against the third ranked pass defense in the NFL.
Head coach Chan Gailey has been noticing the quarterback's improved play and realizes how he can impact the game.
"He continues to get a lot better each week," Gailey said. "He has done an amazing job of understanding our offense and what we're trying to get done. The passing game with the guys doing what they are supposed to do is pretty good now."
Fitzpatrick has long believed the Bills attack can be a dangerous one, but Sunday was the most convincing on-field statement to date.
"I can tell you that I love the guys I am playing with, and competing with them," said Fitzpatrick. "We are going to get over the hump. I can't say enough about the guys up front-keeping me clean against a defense that is very aggressive and very tough up front. The plays that Steve (Johnson), Roscoe (Parrish), Lee (Evans), and David (Nelson) made on the outside—I just love the guys that I am playing with."
A big question heading into this game was how the team would handle the Ravens aggressive blitzing defense. Gailey credited Fitzpatrick with organizing the protections to get favorable matchups up front.
"The communication was great," said Fitzpatrick. "That's what we wanted to focus on in the bye week and it really showed during the game. The identification of who we thought was coming and communicating it to the guys up front and to the backs and receivers was able to help us (Sunday)."
Even though Steve Johnson had a career game, he realized it was Fitzpatrick who put him in a position to make plays.
"When you got a quarterback like Fitz he makes it easy for me," Johnson said. "I barely do a lot, it is all him putting the ball in the right areas, I just have to put my hands up and catch it."
Veteran wide receiver Lee Evans echoed Johnson's comments about Fitzpatrick, noting his gunslinger mentality that many wide receivers respect. When discussing the 20-yard touchdown pass that put the Bills up 24-10, Evans said it was Fitzpatrick who made the big play.
"It was just one of those things," said Evans. "He was just trying to make a play. It wasn't necessarily an advised throw but he felt like he could gun it in there and he executed it well."
When asked if the Bills found the long term answer at quarterback, Evans spoke positively of the Harvard grad.
"Maybe, just maybe," said Evans. "Fitz has a lot of talent. You know he is in control out there with the offense. He knows what is going on and what we need to get done."
Fitzpatrick has faced questions in recent weeks about the possibility of the franchise looking for a new young talent at quarterback in the offseason, but he chooses to operate in the here and now, knowing all he can control is helping the offense put points on the board.
And since Fitzpatrick has been in the lineup Buffalo's attack has averaged 26 points per game. He'll have another opportunity to build on that point production for the Bills next Sunday at Kansas City. Though the Chiefs are one of the surprise teams in the NFL with a 4-2 record they rank just 25th against the pass.