Fred Jackson was less than pleased with his performance a week ago. Matching a season low in yards per carry (2.0) along with a fumble led to a Bears touchdown in another close loss for Buffalo, Jackson was determined to show up for his team against the Lions. Despite a fumble and a slow start in the first half, Jackson, much like the Bills persevered with 170 yards of offense and a pair of touchdowns in Buffalo's first win of the season.
"I felt like I needed to come out and play a little harder," said Jackson. "It wasn't the best game I had last week, so I felt like I had to go to another level and I feel like I've got to play like that for the rest of the year."
"He's such a warrior," said Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw his only touchdown pass to Jackson. "His production hasn't been probably where he wants it to be this year, but huge day on the ground and (he) made a nice little touchdown run after the catch. Fred guts it out and gets back in the game and plays and everybody loves the guy. You can't say enough about him.
"He had the fumble, but he wanted the ball on every play and we were going to feed him and ride him to victory."
With C.J. Spiller out of the game after sustaining a hamstring injury during a second-quarter punt return, Fred Jackson had to shoulder most of the load in the offensive backfield Sunday, but was averaging just 2.7 a carry in the first half.
Jackson was ready come the second half however, as he looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the first play from scrimmage, racing 39 yards into Detroit territory. Five plays later Jackson took a quick shovel pass from Fitzpatrick and took it to open space along the near sideline for a 16-yard scoring play.
On the next offensive series however, he like Spiller sustained a physical setback. Hit in the back of his knee at the tail end of a play in the third quarter, Jackson was fortunately able to return.
"I got hit in the nerve," said Jackson. "It's a nerve in the back of the knee that's like the funny bone. My foot just kind of went numb and I couldn't stand up on it. I had to lay there to try to get some feeling back in it."
Jackson apparently felt fine as he ripped off 38 yards on his next three carries, including a 27-yard shot up the middle for his first 100-yard rushing day this season and the fifth of his career. By game's end he had 133 rushing yards on 25 carries and added a 16-yard catch-and-run on a shovel pass.
The Bills veteran back said he hopes Spiller can return to action soon, but was glad to make up for last week's performance in which he ran for only 16 yards on eight carries and lost a fumble.
"I felt like once C.J. had the injury, I knew I was going to have to make some plays," Jackson said.
Wide receiver Lee Evans said the Bills knew they had a good chance to establish the ground game on Detroit, the No. 27 run defense in the league, and Jackson – who accounted for all but 18 of the Bills' rushing yards – answered the call.
"That was one of the things we felt like we had to do," Evans said. "Hats off to offensive line and to Fred. We got in a little rhythm for a while, but it started from the running game."
Jackson said the Bills also knew the Lions would often play eight defenders in the box, which the Bills eventually were able to exploit by beating the unblocked man.
"When they have an eight-man box, a lot of times it's about Fred making that one guy miss, and obviously everyone else has to get their blocks," said Eric Wood. "But Fred I'm sure made us look good on a lot of those big runs."
"We practiced against it all week, and just being able to find a crease was all it was going to take," Jackson said. "Our offensive line, tight ends and receivers did a great job of blocking for me, and I was able to go out and take advantage of it."
Coach Chan Gailey had no official report on Spiller's injury, but said he imagines the rookie will be out next week at Cincinnati.
Gailey added Jackson's performance was well earned, and also gave credit to the offensive line for handling Detroit's monstrous defensive line.
"It was a huge day for him running the football, which he deserved, to be honest with you," Gailey said. "He's fought hard and he's worked hard. The line blocked and did some good things, because those are some big humans up front. That is a big, strong defensive front in Detroit. Our guys blocked hard for the run game."
Spiller's injury also forced newly acquired Quinton Ganther in to backfield duty. Ganther, who signed with the Bills Monday after his Nov. 2 release from Seattle, carried four times for only two yards, but said he studied all week, was prepared to play and will be ready to go in the future if his number is called.
"I wasn't nervous because I know what I'm doing," Ganther said. "When you know what you're doing, you can play fast and you can be secure with yourself. Fred's the guy around here; but when I go in there, we're not going to miss a beat."
In the end however, it was Jackson's day to carry the offense and he came through.
"He does so many things well," said Geoff Hangartner. "Everybody on this team has a lot of respect for Fred and I think he brings a confidence to our offense."