He's been hampered for weeks, slowed by a high-ankle sprain, but Sunday, Bills teammates were glad to have the C.J. Spiller they're used to seeing.
"I was just joking with him and just saying it's good to have old C.J. back," Jeff Tuel said.
For three games immediately after sustaining his high-ankle sprain in Week 4, Spiller struggled to cut and explode off his injured left ankle. Week seven at Miami he struggled managing just 11 yards on six attempts. Coach Marrone chose to hold him out of their Week eight game at New Orleans, a day when Buffalo ran for only 88 yards on 68 plays.
A week off apparently did wonders as Spiller delivered three of the four longest plays in the game Sunday. Sunday against the Chiefs also marked the first time since Week two that Spiller ran for over 100 yards.
C.J. Spiller: "We still lost and that's all that matters"
Spiller's power and explosion were evident, and Buffalo's ground game was the beneficiary hitting a season high Sunday with 241 yards. Spiller gained 9.7 yards per carry on 12 runs for 116 yards and added two receptions for 39 yards. He even outran Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, who had 90 yards off 17 carries. Charles makes up nearly 40 percent of the Chief's offense.
"He's a tremendous player for us," Fred Jackson said. "So any time you get a guy like that back, you want to take advantage of his skill set. He was able to make some big plays for us."
Starting on the Bills very first scoring drive, Spiller's presence hit the field in a pair of runs which gained one of three first downs, allowing Tuel breathing room to toss a deep touchdown to Marquise Goodwin.
Two possessions later, Spiller touched the ball four times on a five-minute-drive, most notably finding a hole opened by a trio of thundering blocks in the middle. Spiller slashed through the void and ran for 29 yards before being forced out of bounds. The drive was capped by a field goal.
"Offensive line and tight ends and wide receivers did a great job blocking," Spiller said. "Just trying to make a couple plays, a couple guys miss, just try to give us a spark."
Spiller had more in the second half. Coming out of halftime, on the first play from scrimmage he shot through a hole, broke a pair of tackles, eluded a third defender and took off into Kansas City territory before he was taken down 61 yards downfield. It wound up being the longest offensive play of the game.
Unfortunately six plays later with the Bills on the doorstep of Kansas City's end zone, Tuel threw an interception, which Kansas City returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
"We went right down the field, C.J. (Spiller) did a nice job, made a great run and we get down there and we don't punch it in on goal line," head coach Doug Marrone said. "We get a penalty on the pass play first and then we don't punch it in with a goal line formation."
"That's a huge momentum swing, for anybody," Jackson said. "It was something we had to get over fairly quickly. That's something you don't want to deal with, being down there and not only getting no points, but also giving them seven points. It's something we just cannot do in that situation."
Buffalo would tie the score a short time later and again Spiller was the catalyst. He singlehandedly ran the offense into field goal range off a flare pass from Tuel, which he took up the left sideline for 27 yards. Jackson earned the drive another first down, but the offense stalled at Kansas City 12-yard-line. Buffalo again took a field goal, but they proved to be Buffalo's final points in a 10-point loss.
While the Bills feature back was glad he could contribute in the fashion that teammates and fans have come to expect, being saddled with the loss made it hard for Spiller to take pride in his efforts.
"Like I said all week, I feel good," Spiller said. "I feel like the spring is coming back. It's still not back but it's definitely very close. (Sunday) was very encouraging for me. It was a great day to run the ball as well as we did against a good team. At the end of the day, we still lost and that's all that matters."