ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- For most of last week, talk around One Bills Drive centered around the running game. Struggling through three games, the Buffalo Bills "needed" to get their ground game going, CEO Russ Brandon told WGR 550 last Wednesday.
If that was to start Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, it would be a challenge. The Ravens entered the game allowing just 74 rushing yards per game, near the top of the NFL.
But from the first play of the Bills' 23-20 victory Sunday, it was clear Buffalo would have a chance to bruise Baltimore with its running game. C.J. Spiller rushed for 10 yards on his first carry, and finished with 77 yards on 23 carries. Fred Jackson added 16 carries for 87 yards.
Overall, the Bills ran 55 times, the most since 56 carries against the Redskins on Nov. 3, 1996.
Meanwhile, the Ravens all but abandoned their rushing attack, not handing off from 4:29 left in the second quarter until 4:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. They finished with 24 yards on nine carries, the fifth-lowest total allowed by the Bills, and their lowest since Nov. 30, 2003, at the New York Giants.
The stark contrast in ability to ground-and-pound might have been the difference in the game. The Bills averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and had no runs longer than 16 yards, but were able to gain 203 yards total.
Although the running game, and the Bills' offense as a whole, sputtered late in the contest, it was for good reason: Spiller and Jackson were both hobbled by injuries in the third quarter, but returned to the game.
"I went down first, then Fred went down. We left it with [Tashard] Choice," Spiller said. "We had faith in him but we just told coach [Tyrone] Wheatley that we were just going to give him everything we got."
Spiller ran just twice after his ankle injury and does not know if he will be able to play Thursday at Cleveland. Meanwhile, Jackson sprained his MCL but ran five more times and expects to play against the Browns.
"I tried to go in there for a couple plays, then [Jackson] went in there for a couple plays, and that's what you need, when two of your best players on offense [get injured], you just try to show by example that they try to get it out the best you can," Spiller said.