With wind gusts that at one point reached a speed of 75 miles per hour swirling over the stadium, Bills running back Fred Jackson knew the Bills main plan of attack against the Patriots would come on the ground.
"We knew coming in, with the way the conditions were, that it was going to be a day to run the ball," Jackson said. "I knew coming in that I would probably get a lot of carries. It was something that we wanted to take upon ourselves to be able to do to and kind of take some pressure off going to the pass earlier. We felt like we were able to do so, we just didn't get enough plays out of it."
Starting in place of injured running back Marshawn Lynch, Jackson shouldered the load early on, receiving handoffs on 12 of the Bills' first 13 offensive plays.
With Jackson gaining 40 yards on those first three offensive series, the Bills elected to give the ball to Jackson even when it seemed time for Trent Edwards to finally drop back and pass. After eluding the initial would-be Patriots tackler, Jackson scampered for 13 yards on a third-and-nine draw play that kept the Bills' drive alive long enough for Rian Lindell to attempt a 47-yard field goal.
Jackson also played a major part in what was probably the Bills' best chance to score, breaking off runs of 32 and 13 yards on the Bills' final possession before halftime.
While the 32-yard-run took the Bills into New England territory, the 13-yard-run came on a third and three from the New England 30-yard-line. Jackson, who emerged from piles numerous times to gain extra yards, carried Patriots cornerbacks Ellis Hobbs and Jonathan Wilhite an extra few yards after eluding linebacker Junior Seau.
Jackson limped off after a two-yard gain with just under two minutes remaining in the half but still managed to return to finish the half with a career-high 20 carries before the Bills were unable to kick a field goal as the clock ran out to end the half.
But Jackson's role in the second half was limited. After eclipsing his single game rushing mark of 115 yards (2007 vs. Miami) three minutes into the second half, he received only two carries before gaining 20 yards on the Bills' final two plays of the game.
Jackson attributed his lack of involvement to the high winds and the changing schemes of the Patriots defense.
"The wind played a factor in it," he said. "It was something, I just wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I got. I didn't get as many as I got in the first half, but that was just something where we had to try and make some plays in different ways. They made their halftime adjustments so they kind of knew what we were doing and we were just trying to do some different stuff and we didn't get the benefits of our second half adjustments that we wanted."
Offensive tackle Langston Walker said the wind played as much a factor in the offense's second half strategy as it did in the first half game plan.
"The second half, we couldn't go with the running attack any more, it takes up time," Walker said. "We would risk running out of time if we kept running the ball."
Jackson finished with 136 yards on 27 carries, both career highs, and notched the second 100-yard rushing game of his career.
The last positive for Jackson came with 8:59 remaining, when his catch for no gain gave him and Marshawn Lynch 84 receptions on the season, one ahead of New Orleans' Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas for the league lead in receptions by a running back duo.
Walker only had praise for the Bills' second-year back.
"Fred is a great back, we know that because we see him everyday in practice," he said. "We are lucky to have him, this is a day where he earns his money and so do we."