By Jay Skurski
Athletes love to use slights –- real or perceived -– as motivational fuel.
Bills running back C.J. Spiller is no different.
"I answered the critics. I told them I can tote it 20-plus times. It don't matter to me," Spiller said on the NFL Network set after the Bills' 19-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"We knew they had a tough defense, a good run defense. We're not going to take nothing away from those guys. But I told [the offensive line], 'Let's get on those guys early, and at the end they'll get tired.' That's what happened and in the second half. I was able to get what I wanted."
Only one problem, C.J. The only critic you might have right now is the guy calling your plays. Bills fans –- and the media –- have been united in their calls for you to get the ball more.
Spiller did have 22 carries for 91 yards and three catches for another 39 yards, but there were still times when coach Chan Gailey's use of his star running back could easily be questioned.
In 11 plays run in the red zone (not counting Rian Lindell field goals), for example, Spiller touched the ball just once. Backup Tashard Choice got two red-zone touches.
"I think I said it earlier in the week that Choice would play because [Spiller] gets winded, and then when we're trying to throw the football sometimes we'd rather have Choice in there to protect when we know we're going to throw it," Gailey said in explaining why Spiller was on the sidelines for an extended stretch near the end of the first half, a sequence that ended in a 19-yard field goal by the Bills.
"So we'll stick Choice in there some plays. It just happened that it worked that way. It wasn't an injury."
So Spiller was healthy. He just didn't get his number called with the Bills knocking on the door.
"When someone questions you as a man, I take that to heart," Spiller said. "People are saying I'm too small and can't do it. And I just wanted to come out and show them I could do it. I could've toted it 30 times tonight if I wanted."
Spiller has proven it to everyone else, now he seemingly just needs to win over his head coach.