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C.J. Spiller answers his 'critics,' whoever they may be

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.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |