Even after losing their quarterback early in the second half, Buffalo's pair of running backs fought to rescue a sputtering offense. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson put Buffalo's only points on the board in the second half and scored all three touchdowns on the day in a game that was there for the taking.
"Anytime you lose your starting quarterback and your starting receiver there's going to be some adversity. It's going to be tough," Jackson said.
Leading up to the game Spiller missed practices with an ankle injury and Jackson suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain.
"It's definitely sore, but it's one of those things where we're at the point in the season where guys have to play, and I'm one of them even being injured," Jackson said regarding his knee injury. "I tried to do what I could out there. I had to brace it up and suck it up and go out there and play."
Jackson led the team with two touchdowns, posting 53 rushing yards in 17 plays along with 40 receiving yards on four catches. Spiller, although limited in touches, led in rushing yards with 66 on eight plays including one 54-yard-run for a touchdown after finding a hole in the defense on the third snap following halftime.
"The offensive line did a great job blocking those guys up," said Spiller. "The biggest thing was that I just tried to press the line of scrimmage as much as I could. I was able to get a jump cut to the left and seeing TJ Graham did a great job blocking the corner. From then on, I just looked up into the Jumbotron because I knew my ankle wasn't 100-percent. I just wanted to see if I could outrun guys with a bum ankle."
"I thought they did a great job," said head coach Doug Marrone. "Both players did a lot of extra treatment (during the week). We really didn't know. They just started getting better and better. And both players would come in every day saying 'I feel good, I think I'm going to be ready.' It helped us."
Run calls dropped from 55 plays just a week ago against to 31 against the Browns, but they still rolled up 155 yards averaging five yards per carry.
"We had some key injuries that affected our passing game a bit. Until they started putting more guys in the box I felt like we could run the ball at will on them with two dinged up running backs. A lot of guts by them that they showed. C.J. on his long run, Fred grinding it out all night. It's a shame that the game turned the way it did at the end because that was one we definitely could've won."
The stout Cleveland run defense held the Bengals to just 63 total rushing yards a week earlier. That's what left backup quarterback Jeff Tuel so impressed by Jackson and Spiller's production despite not being 100 percent.
"Those guys are some of the toughest guys I've ever met," Tuel said. "Just to do the things that they do and Fred to come in and have a dominance in the run game and be so physical in it is impressive. And then C.J., you guys saw what he did with that long run with a bum wheel is super impressive. I tip my cap to those guys."