It's been the primary component of several game plans for the Bills all season long. On Sunday Buffalo finally was in a position to stick with it and the result was the most successful dual rushing effort of the season in a 16-10 win at Kansas City.
"We wanted to establish the run game," said interim head coach Perry Fewell. "That was our offensive game plan."
The Bills rushed for an even 200 yards against the Chiefs on 35 carries including 122 in the first half, second only to their 132-yard output in the first half against Tampa Bay in Week 2. Against the Bucs it was Fred Jackson that rumbled for most of the 218 yards, but on Sunday it was the one-two punch Buffalo had visions of using all season long.
"It's something that we want to do consistently, with the circumstances of injuries and things like that we haven't been able to, but it's one of the things if we're able to do, it definitely improves our chances of winning," said Jackson. "Marshawn and myself feel like if we can go out and do this on a consistent basis we're going to be a hard team to beat."
Jackson finished with 99 yards on 20 carries while Lynch rolled up a season-high 84 yards. Collectively they helped the Bills average almost six yards per carry (5.7). And while that success on the ground did not help them much with their third down conversions where they were 3-12 in the game, it did help to lengthen a couple of their drives. Buffalo tied a season high with eight first downs gained on the ground.
As has been the case for much of the season Jackson found creases and continuously gained extra yardage when it appeared like there wasn't much room to work with, while Lynch pounded out yardage, but also had a team high 47-yard run. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was pleased with the performance of both backs.
"Both guys ran the ball well," Van Pelt said. "I'm really happy. They're good running backs. We're lucky to have them. We went into this game saying we wanted to run the football and I think we did a good job of that."
A factor that undoubtedly played a role in Buffalo's ground game success was the fact that their five starters on the offensive line were the same five men for the third straight week. It's the first time the line has remained the same for three consecutive games this season.
There was however, a change at the tight end position for a stretch. Shawn Nelson left the game for almost two quarters due to an ankle injury and was replaced by reserve offensive tackle Jamon Meredith, who helped to maintain Buffalo's frequently used two tight end alignment.
"He's played right tackle, tight end, left tackle," said Van Pelt of Meredith. "He's just a young guy that's an athlete and has done a great job for us. That whole group, they've done everything we've asked of them and it's just a tribute to them."
"Those guys being able to go in and play another position when your team needs you to," said Jackson. "My hat goes off to (Jonathan) Stupar because he played every play on offense. He was on the field (throwing up) at one point. He was a guy that wanted to perform for us and help us get a victory. Jamon coming in as another tight end to help us. It was about guys just wanting to get a victory."