After handing the ball off only 20 times for 61 yards in the Bills loss to St. Louis last weekend, this Sunday provides a great opportunity to get the run game back on track north of the border.
The Seattle Seahawks (8-5) will meet Buffalo Sunday in Toronto for the Bills annual game in the Rogers Centre. They've got the 10th-ranked run defense, but before Seattle whitewashed Arizona last week 58-0, the Seahawks defense allowed 151.2 rushing yards per game in their six contests prior. Teams racked up a total of 907 yards on the ground in those six weeks, including a 243-yard performance by the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 4.
Running back Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, put up 182 of those yards. Peterson ranks second in yards per carry for running backs in the NFL, falling only behind Buffalo's own C.J. Spiller.
Spiller still respects the Seahawks run front and believes he'll need to go into this game with a patient mindset in order to find the gaps to break some long runs.
"Well you are just going to have to take what they give you," Spiller said. "You can't go in there thinking that you can break them every time because those guys are fast, physical and fly around so it is going to be a crowded box is what I expect. I just have to take what they give me and if a big one breaks I've got to hopefully take advantage of it. I can't go into the game pressing that is going to be the biggest thing. I can't go into the game pressing for it."
With running back Fred Jackson out for the rest of the season, Spiller is expected to carry a good majority of the load for the Bills. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said the team thinks they should be able to run loose on the Seahawks.
"We think so," said Fitzpatrick on teams being able to run on Seattle. "That's something we try to focus on every week. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. With C.J. now the guy that's going to get the majority of the carries, he's got a great opportunity, a great challenge. I know he's excited for it."
Left tackle Cordy Glenn had a different view on going up against the 11th ranked run defense.
"I'm not going to put anything into them struggling," Glenn said. "We've been struggling too. I know they'll be ready to play like we will be come Sunday."
Head Coach Chan Gailey agreed with Glenn that they put up a good defense no matter who is on the field for them.
"First of all they're a good run defense," Gailey said. "It doesn't matter who is playing. They play good run defense out of their nickel. I think they're 10th in the league rush defense and fourth overall. They're a great defense in every respect. You just have to make a plan for it, to try to get a hat on a hat and make blocks and give C.J. some room to run."
Seattle is known for using not two, but three defensive tackles in their front four, slotting the 6-4, 323-pound Red Bryant in the left defensive end position on run downs.
Fitzpatrick noted the size and physicality of the Seahawks defense and their capability to stop the ground game. Their defense did not allow a team to run over 90 yards in their first six games of the season, leading to them to a 4-2 record.
"They do a good job of that and even just bringing an extra player in the box. You can see they're a big physical team, just in terms of the size of their safeties and corners," said Fitzpatrick. "Big physical team. We're going to have to have some runs that are maybe one-two yard runs, try to limit the negative plays, and then just stay with it, and try to get some of those big runs out of C.J.."