- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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Third, long, and no problem: One of the deciding factors in the game was the Bills' ability to convert on third-and-long. They struggled early in the season to move the sticks on third down, but on Sunday, a combination of poise from quarterback Thad Lewis and shiftiness from his receivers after the catch helped keep the punt unit off the field. In fact, the Bills had third down and at least 7 yards to gain 11 times in the game, tied for fourth-most among all NFL games this season. They converted five of those chances; only the New England Patriots in Week 1 (6-of-11 on third-and-long) had more first downs in that situation this season.
What next for Jackson, Spiller? The flip side to the Bills' success on third-and-long is that they were often forced there by ineffective plays on first and second downs. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, who would normally carry the load on early downs, are banged up. While the toughness of both players is evident, we're only coming up on the halfway mark of the season. It will be worth monitoring if the Bills decide to sit Jackson or Spiller for a game, likely one at a time, to stem what has been a dangerous rate of wear and tear.
Second-quarter woes: After a strong start Sunday, the Bills began to slide in the second quarter before being able to recover later in the game. It's a similar script to that from Week 5, when the Bills were off to a hot start in Cleveland but let it slip away. Fortunately for Buffalo, they were able to make the plays in the end to pull out the win, but surrendering a 14-0 lead can't make coach Doug Marrone too happy. Overall, opponents are outscoring the Bills by 23 points in the second quarter, the fourth-worst margin in the NFL.
Impressive company: Through Week 7, just two NFL teams have scored at least 20 points in each game: the Bills and the Denver Broncos. Even with the Broncos losing, that's good company for Buffalo to keep. Doing it with two different quarterbacks, one a rookie, is noteworthy. It's the fourth time in franchise history the Bills have started a season with at least 20 points in each of their first seven games, and the first since 2011.