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C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson combine for 12 carries versus Texans

By Tim Graham

HOUSTON -- In the days leading up to this afternoon's game against the Houston Texans, running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller embraced the notion the best option the Buffalo Bills offense had was to run.

"A lot's going to be put on me and Fred," Spiller said Wednesday. "We know that load's going to be put on us, and we're looking forward to getting the challenge."

Jackson spoke of wanting to win the showdown against Texans star running back Arian Foster.

"We want to be the best running back duo in the league," Jackson said. "The best way to prove that is to go out there and outperform guys on the field when you play against them."

So much for that.

Buffalo's strength -- on the entire team -- is its running backs. But you wouldn't know it by how much Spiller and Jackson touched the ball.

Spiller entered the game with the NFL's highest rushing average and almost matched it at 6.5 yards a carry. But he ran only six times for 39 yards.

Jackson, coming off a 71-yard performance in Week Seven, also rushed just six times for 21 yards.

"It's tough," Jackson said. "The defense they were playing dictated what we were doing as well. Of course, we wanted to get out there and run the ball. But you've got to go with what's called."

Spiller, Jackson or quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't raise any objections to Chan Gailey's play calls.

Fitzpatrick said: "They did a nice job with the personnel they had of taking us out of our run game. We tried to run a little bit early with two [tight ends] and they did a good job of taking that away. We felt like we had a better chance getting the ball in the air."

Spiller said: "We had to deviate to our passing game. When the score gets like that, you have to go to your second plan and get something quick. We thought we could get our passing game going. So I'm fine with however many carries I had."

Jackson said: "I'm a running back. I want to run the football, but we've got to do what our coach calls. That's the only thing we can do. Whenever he calls a pass, we've got to execute it."

Particularly strange was the start of the third quarter. The Bills found momentum at the end of the second quarter with a blocked Texans field goal followed by a Rian Lindell field goal to pull within a point.

The Bills got the ball first to open the second half and squandered it by throwing three straight incompletions and punting. On their third possession, they threw three straight times again and punted.

"That's just the way it is with our team," Fitzpatrick said. "When teams play against us, the biggest thing is 'Stop the run, stop C.J., stop Fred and make them beat you with the pass.' That's what the Texans came into the game saying, and that's what they did.

"It's something we need to evaluate and figure out and have a good plan for. We've got to be able to take advantage with our guys on the outside as well."

Fitzpatrick was 25 of 38 for 239 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Much of his production was on short throws. He had one downfield completion to tight end Scott Chandler for 27 yards.

Spiller had five catches for 63 yards, with two of those receptions going for 19 yards inside the final minute and with the Texans playing a prevent defense.

Jackson caught five passes for 14 yards.

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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 |