Sunday, September 8, 2013
Patriots shut down C.J. Spiller in opener
By Mike Rodak
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A little more than a month after saying in a radio interview that he would give carries to C.J. Spiller "until he threw up," Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett began Sunday's game with that approach.
Spiller, who the Bills used in a rotation in recent seasons with veteran Fred Jackson, touched the ball on eight of the 13 plays in the first quarter. The Patriots, who later came away with a 23-21 comeback win, were largely able to shut Spiller down. He finished with 41 yards on 17 carries, as well as 14 yards on five receptions.
"We have two great running backs," Spiller said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to try to come in and stop the run. I'd be surprised if any team didn't do that and we know that going into the game. We just have to try to find ways to counter them."
On his second carry of the game, Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington forced Spiller to fumble, with the Patriots taking over at the Bills' 16-yard line and turning the turnover into a touchdown.
"I went to make my cut and it just came away from me," Spiller said. "I'll just have to look at it either tonight or tomorrow to see exactly what happened."
As the game progressed, the Bills turned more to Jackson, who at 32 is the team's oldest player. Jackson finished with 67 yards on 13 carries, for an impressive 5.2-yard per carry average.
"Whenever we play a team, they are going to think about C.J. and rightfully so," Jackson said. "He has played out of his mind the last two years. It's just my job when I get that opportunity to take some of that pressure off him."
Head coach Doug Marrone seemed pleased with the performance, regardless of whether Jackson or Spiller was more effective.
"[The Patriots'] run defense was one of the best in the league last year," he noted. "Those guys are stout and they can play, so I think there were times that we're able to take advantage of something strategically. At the end of the day, they were 4.5 yards running the ball. We were 4.0 [yard] average running the ball."