Just last week, Fred Jackson was named the starting running back and fared well against the Miami Dolphins. His two-touchdown performance helped solidify his number one role against the Jets Thursday night, only to be outgained by his complementary back.
The running of Marshawn Lynch was a lone bright spot offensively in the Bills 19-13 loss to the Jets in Toronto. It's been a rather disappointing season for Lynch, but his six carries for 60 yards helped the offense score points early.
After Jay Feely nailed a 49-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 6-3 lead at the start of the second quarter, the Bills responded with a five-play touchdown drive. Lynch was the catalyst, rushing three times for 55 yards, including a 15-yard score off left tackle—his second of the year. While dragging a Jets defender four yards into the end zone, Lynch displayed the power running reminiscent of his first two pro seasons.
The play before—a second-and-6—he took a toss to the left, charged through a hole and burst 35 yards to the Jets 15. The eventual score put the Bills ahead, 10-6, with 10:25 remaining in the half.
"I thought the offensive line executed well and Marshawn hit the hole," interim head coach Perry Fewell said. "When he saw the hole he hit the crease and the explosion was good by Marshawn. He took advantage of some opportunities out there in that ball game and you saw Marshawn Lynch run. So we were very encouraged by that."
Coming off a dismal performance against the Dolphins last week, carrying three times for six yards, the team finally received a quality rushing performance from Lynch. Since returning from a three-game suspension to begin the season, Lynch has 96 carries for 338 yards. Those figures contrast his back-to-back 1,000 rushing seasons when he ranked among the AFC's best.
The hard running style Lynch exhibited caught his blocker's attention.
"The thing about the run game, especially with the personnel and we're running directly at them, we just had to focus on hand placement, driving our feet and just keep running," Jonathan Scott said. "Marshawn (Lynch) did a great job of reading the holes and he just had a 'get after it' attitude."
Lynch's success continued his solid stretch of games against New York. In five career meetings before Thursday, the third-year back recorded 363 yards on 93 carries, along with nine receptions for 83 yards. His last 100-yard rushing game came in a losing effort to the Jets Dec. 14, 2008. That afternoon, Lynch ran for 127 yards as the Bills fell 31-27.
Unfortunately, Lynch was outdone by the Jets physical running game that pounded out 249 yards and controlled the tempo. After his score, the offense failed to create any scoring drives except a late field goal.
"We just didn't establish any more drives like that," Terrell Owens said. "There were some opportunities there and we just didn't convert, and a lot of third down situations and that's how drives are sustained."
Ryan Fitzpatrick also cited the third down struggles as reason for not building momentum off the drive.
"We ran the ball real well on that drive," he said. "We didn't end too many of those third down situations. I think that hurt us all day, the third down stuff and being able to stay on the field."
Lynch has led the team in rushing 30 out 37 career games. His 2,489 rushing yards now rank 10th on the Bills all-time rushing chart, and needs 353 to move ahead of Jim Braxton (2,842).
Jackson believed his teammates skills would resurface eventually.
"He's a playmaker, so we don't expect him to stay down long. He got it going and we were definitely able to feed off it."