After the Bills couldn't find a way to pass effectively on the west coast, the offense turned to the screen game to attack Tennessee in the Bills 35-34 loss Sunday.
Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the day with 225 yards passing with three touchdowns and a 109.8 quarterback rating. Fitzpatrick had a quarterback rating of 57.5 and 68.9 in San Francisco and Arizona, respectively.
Down 7-0 in the first, Fitzpatrick found running back Fred Jackson on a screen for the Bills' first offensive play of the game, going for nine yards. Later in the drive Fitzpatrick hit running back C.J. Spiller on a center screen that went for 20 yards, down to the Tennessee four-yard line. Two plays later, Fitzpatrick went back to Jackson on a screen over the middle for an easy three-yard touchdown to knot the game at seven.
Fitzpatrick said feeding Jackson and Spiller the ball is a vital part of their offense.
"Again, just getting those guys (Spiller and Jackson) touches as many ways as we can," Fitzpatrick said. "Whether it is handing the ball off out of the backfield or throwing them screens, we just wanted to get them as many touches as we could. That was part of it. This defense that we played is one that a lot of times will have two high safeties and sit back. If we can get our guys the ball and get them a block then it gives us a good chance to get them in space."
Jackson and Spiller combined for 14 catches and 81 yards receiving on the day accounting for more than half of Fitzpatrick's 27 completions.
Fitzpatrick noted that the offense produced the way they need to.
"We did a good job for the most part," Fitzpatrick said. "During the game it is a good feeling to be able to move the ball like that. Just have a lot of different things working and that is the kind of offense we want to be, in terms of getting our running backs the ball. Get them going. We had some nice boot, nakeds, where we had some guys open. That is kind of who we are right now, getting those guys going."
Down 28-20 in the third quarter, Spiller took a dump pass from Fitzpatrick for nine yards on a 3rd-and-1 to sustain the drive. On the next play Fitzpatrick found wide receiver Donald Jones on a 15-yard slant route for a touchdown.
On the next Bills possession, Buffalo faced a 3rd-and-5 from their own 25 when Fitzpatrick found Jackson in the right flat for a seven-yard gain. Later in the drive, Fitzpatrick found wide receiver Stevie Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown pass to give the Bills their first lead of the game.
The Bills finished the game going 7-for-12 in third down conversions, but Spiller said that number isn't going to cut it.
"The main thing is to try to convert on third down," Spiller said. "You are not going to win too many if you don't. Very disappointed we let this one get away. Definitely had our opportunity to go into the bye with a great record. We're 3-4, it is what it is; we'll regroup and get ready."