As Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the pass on 1st-and-10 at his own 31 late in the first half he knew he was going to take a hit. The blow to his rib cage from the helmet of London Fletcher left his gasping for air, something every one of his teammates was also doing when they saw him down on all fours on the turf holding his side.
"He's a huge part of what we do so I think everybody on offense, so the whole team had a collective gasp when they saw him down there trying to suck air so to speak," said Fred Jackson.
"It was a bit of concern," said Chris Kelsay. "I think everybody in the locker room would say that. If they don't they're lying. He's played spectacular for us this season. He's not the only motor behind that offense for us, but anytime you have the leader of your offense go down like that it's obviously a concern."
Fitpatrick appeared to take the crown of Fletcher's helmet to the side of his rib cage just under the area where the chest protector on his shoulder pads stops.
The Bills quarterback tried to pop right back up, but the pain from the hit or the inability to get air in his lungs forced him to go back down to one knee and then both hands and knees.
"Yeah he just hit me," said Fitzpatrick when asked about the location and severity of the hit. "It just knocked the air out of me."
Buffalo's medical and athletic training staff came onto the field after the play was over and about a minute after they arrived Fitzpatrick got to his feet. He headed down the field to set up the huddle, but still wasn't quite right.
"He came back to the huddle and he was still doing the same thing (gasping for air) and everybody in the huddle was wide-eyed trying to make sure he's okay," said Jackson.
Fitzpatrick missed on his next pass attempt out to the left as his throw sailed wide of Stevie Johnson incomplete with 24 seconds left in the half. After completing a 2nd-and-10 pass for a two-yard gain to Brad Smith, Fitzpatrick while still trying to get his full bearings again had the presence of mind to spike the ball to stop the clock allowing Rian Lindell to attempt a 44-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half.
After getting the benefit of halftime to fully recuperate, Fitzpatrick appeared to be back to normal and after the game was even joking about how the crowd reacted to Jackson's 46-yard catch and run.
"I thought, 'Boy Toronto really doesn't like me,'" said Fitzpatrick. "I thought that was a lot of excitement for a quarterback getting hit. I didn't know Fred broke the tackle and ran down the sideline. But then I saw Fred running."
The Bills are just glad Fletcher's big hit didn't lead to an injury that could compromise Buffalo's most promising offensive season in years with Fitzpatrick as the trigger man.
"Without him we wouldn't be in the situation we are," said Jackson. "The first thing I did was try to make sure he was alright after the play, but it was good for him to get back in there."