Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey loves to throw the football, but even he chose to sit back and watch while his two-headed running attack gashed the Jacksonville Jaguars defense time and time again.
Bills running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined for 39 carries, 186 rushing yards (4.77 YPA) and a touchdown, adding three receptions for 17 yards. In total, the two backs accounted for 203 of Buffalo's 344 yards (59 percent).
With 46 carries against 17 pass attempts, the Bills ran the ball nearly three times as often as they threw it. That's not a terrible surprise, considering how effective the run was for them. The Bills averaged 6.58 yards per pass attempt against 5.04 yards per rush attempt.
Of course, the score may have had something to do with it, too; Spiller and Jackson had a combined 16 carries in the first half, before finishing the game with 39.
Jackson's production has been down all year while he has battled through a knee injury and a concussion, but Sunday's game marked his first 100-yard rushing performance since Week 11 of 2011 against the Dallas Cowboys. He averaged a healthy 4.4 YPA.
Jackson carrying the load would not have been a strange sight in the 2011 season, when he was averaging 17 attempts per game; this year, he's down to 10.1 attempts per game while Spiller has earned a heavier share of the workload (6.7 attempts per game in 2011 compared to 11.2 per game in 2012).
Ordinarily, there would be some railing against Gailey's decision to avoid Spiller and ride Jackson, but Spiller was far less effective than Jackson, with just 32 yards on his first 12 carries before a 44-yard touchdown run helped pad his stats.
"You'd like for C.J. to be on a fast track," Gailey said (via BuffaoBills.com). "But he proved with that one run that sometimes it doesn't matter, but when you're in a physical, downhill game, that's more Fred's game."
Regardless of what kind of game it is, it seems like the running game should be at the forefront. Fred Jackson wasn't bashful about saying that after the game (via BuffaloBills.com):
We feel like we know our best players are in the running back room. So that’s how we want to approach the game. We have to go out and get started early, we feel like if we do that then it gives us a good opportunity to win football games. If we continue to do this we make plays, it is going to take a lot pressure off our offense.
Furthermore, the game was proof that this offense is at its best when it's not trying to do everything through the passing game. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took a back seat with just 17 pass attempts, his lowest total since taking the reins as the starting quarterback in 2010.
Fitzpatrick had a tough day on paper, completing just nine of 17 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but with several drops by the wide receivers, his day could have been much better. Still, it's harrowing to think about the fact that 51 of his yards came on one pass to T.J. Graham.
If the Bills want to be a contender, they'll still have to get more out of the quarterback position going forward. For now, though, they'd be foolish not to maximize their talents as a running football team.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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