It was clear the focal point of New England's defensive game plan was C.J. Spiller. More often than not there was more than one Patriots' defender in his vicinity on each and every play. It made for some tough yards on the ground with Spiller gaining 11 yards on his first six carries Sunday. That's why teams have a second back as a change of pace and Fred Jackson provided just that for Buffalo's offense.
The veteran back picked up 26 yards on his first four carries and only picked up the production from there. On the team's longest scoring drive of the day Jackson accounted for 17 yards on four carries including a pair of first downs.
Fred Jackson on C.J. Spiller: "He has played out of his mind the last two years"
"Whenever we play a team, they are going to think about C.J. (Spiller) and rightfully so," said Jackson. "He has played out of his mind the last two years. It's just my job when I get that opportunity to take some of that pressure off him."
He then delivered a key 3rd-and-6 conversion with an 11-yard catch and run to set the Bills offense up with a 1st-and-10 at the Patriots 21-yard line. They would score their only second-half touchdown two plays later.
"Fred did an awesome job as well as C.J. (Spiller)," said EJ Manuel. "But I really would thank the offensive line. They did a great job, not only run blocking but also pass blocking. They both did a good job."
Buffalo's offense had its share of fits and starts. After converting just one of their six third down opportunities in the first half, they moved the chains on three of seven third downs in the second half. All told the Bills had just 15 first downs in the game with Jackson delivering seven of them.
By game's end Jackson had 108 all-purpose yards averaging 5.2 per carry while contributing four receptions for 41 yards.
Spiller realizes he's going to be the focus of attention for most of Buffalo's opponents this season. That's why he's hoping Jackson and third back Tashard Choice can be productive when opposing defenses load up to stop him.
"We have two great running backs with Tashard (Choice) (and Fred Jackson)," said Spiller. "I'm pretty sure they're going to try to come in and stop the run. I'd be surprised if any team didn't do that and we know that going into the game. We just have to try to find ways to counter them."