The Buffalo Bills played their one neutral site game last year in Toronto during Week 8, when they shut out the Washington Redskins 23-0. The win moved the Bills to 5-2 and set them up to be a contender in the AFC East division race.
But, it proved to be a costly win. During the game, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took a shot to the body from Redskins LB London Fletcher. The hit was severe enough that Fitzpatrick suffered four cracked ribs and an injured sternum.
He didn't tell the team he was hurt and continued to play through the injury. When the injury was leaked after the season ended, Fitzpatrick was angry that the story got out because he didn't want anybody to think that there should have been any excuses for him.
Prior to that Redskins game, the Bills had recently signed Fitzpatrick to a six-year contract extension, and now that Fitzpatrick was one of the highest paid players on the team, there was no way that he was going to sit out any games. But, unfortunately, the injury really affected the level of his play.
Fitzpatrick had difficulty throwing the ball with the same degree of authority that he did in the first seven games, and the results were not pretty. In the first seven games prior to the injury, Fitzpatrick threw 14 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
His QB Passer Rating ranged from 88.7-133, and he was ranked among the NFL league leaders. From Week 8 on after the injury, Fitzpatrick threw just 10 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions. His QB Passer Ratings were in the 30s, 40s and 50s.
If you watch Fitzpatrick play, he's the type of throwback player who when he scrambles, he doesn't slide, but he looks for somebody on defense whom he can hit and punish rather than slide or go out of bounds.
If a play becomes broken and he has an opportunity to run in and throw a block for Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller, he does so willingly, much to the chagrin of head coach Chan Gailey.
That's part of why Buffalo fans love Fitzpatrick. He has the toughness that Bills fans respect, and the way that he throws his body around, that will forever endear him to Western New Yorkers.
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