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Bills Get Road Win 24-14
Spiller injury dampens enthusiasm for the victory.
by Steve Saslow
at
Week 3
Bills  24
Browns  14
Gameday Grades
The Skinny:
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes including a 9 yard pass to Stevie Johnson in the fourth quarter to clinch a 24-14 road win over Cleveland. It was the Bills first road win since opening day last year but there was a cloud to the silver lining. C.J. Spiller left the game in the first half with a very painful left shoulder injury. He will undergo an MRI tomorrow. Chan Gailey said he will miss at least this week but doesn't think it's too long term. Before he left he scored on a 32 yard catch and run of a screen pass to give the Bills a 14-0 first quarter lead. Fitzpatrick hit T.J. Graham from nine yards out for his first NFL touchdown to get the scoring started. The passes to Graham and Jackson looked like the same play. Rian Lindell hit a 37 yard field goal for his first three pointer of the year. Tashard Choice did very well in place of Spiller running for 91 yards on 20 carries.

The Turning Point:
The injury to Spiller. Even though the Bills recovered to win the game. His injury absolutely deflated the Bills and the fans to allow the Browns to get back into the game after a 14-0 start. They lost all the momentum but were able regain it just in the nick of time.

The Big Drive:
Just when it looked like that the Bills may let this game slip away they had a great touchdown drive early in the 4th quarter. It was a 10 play, 68 yard drive in 5:27. Choice got it going with a 22 yard run. Graham turned a bubble screen into a nine yard catch and run to convert a 3rd and 9 play. That setup Fitzpatrick's scoring pass to Johnson and gave the Bills a 24-14 lead and the game was essentially over at that point as the Bills took control the rest of the game.

Stat I Did Like:
33 rushing yards allowed on 13 carries.

Stat I Didn't Like:
10 penalties for 75 yards. It wasn't a disciplined effort.

Quick Slants:
- The Browns won the toss and elected to receive but went three and out when Weeden underthrew an open receiver.
- The Bills went 6 for 6 in the red zone on the season when Graham caught his first career touchdown pass. The streak was stopped when they had to settle for a 37 yard FG by Rian Lindell on the opening possession of the third quarter.
- The injury to Spiller just took the wind out of the sails of the fans and of the team for a while as the game settled down.
- Mario Williams had his first sack as a Bill late in the first half. Mark Anderson had his first sack as a Bill in the third quarter forcing a punt.

Key Matchup Results:
The winners of the battles highlighted in our preview article:
DE Mario Williams vs. RT Mitchell Schwartz: Winner: Williams. He had a slow start but took over as the game progressed and had 1½ sacks.
C Eric Wood vs. MLB D'Qwell Jackson: Winner: Wood. Jackson was not a factor and Fitzpatrick had time to throw.
LBs Kelvin Sheppard and Nick Barnett vs. RB Trent Richardson: Winner: Sheppard and Barnett. Richardson was kept under wraps most of the game before the Browns gave up on the running game.
WR Stevie Johnson vs. CB Dimitri Patterson: Winner: Johnson. He was losing this battle until he scored to wrap up the game.
KT/PT Leodis McKelvin vs. KT/PT Josh Cribbs: Winner: McKelvin. He had a 34 yard kick return and two punt returns for 53 yards. Both teams tried to keep the ball out of both of these dangerous players hands.

Keys To The Game Results:
How the keys highlighted in our preview article turned out:
1. Stop Big Play In The Running Game: Success! Richardson longest run was 6 yards.
2. Pressure QB: Success! Early on they didn't get the pressure but brought it late. They had four sacks.
3. Tight Coverage: Success! Did a good job in coverage only giving up one long pass play for a score.

My Take:
This game really gave me a roller coaster of emotions. They had the great start which had me feeling good. Then Spiller gets hurt and I felt like they lost the game. They must have thought that to because the Browns battled back to make a game of it. The team than showed their character as they faced their first tough game of the season and came through some adversity with flying covers as they dominated the fourth quarter. That left me feeling good again. Even though I'm bummed by the loss of Spiller at least it seems Jackson's return is imminent and Choice showed why Chan Gailey loves him with a solid performance.

What's Ahead:
The Bills head home to take on the always tough New England Patriots. This game seemed tough before now it looks even worse thanks to the injury situation at running back. The Bills will at least have the momentum of the big road win that put them at 2-1.

Gameballs

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick - He struggled at times but made big plays when he had to. Finished 22 of 35 for 208 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
  • Tashard Choice - Showed character running for 91 yards on 20 tough characters.
  • Leodis McKelvin - Had some really good returns and his interception wrapped up the game.
  • Mario Williams - Made his presence known with 1½ sacks.


  • Goats
  • None - Good team effort getting the road monkey off their back.


  • Player Of The Week
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick - Now had eight touchdown passes in three games.


  • Positional Breakdown and Grades
    NFL.com Gamebook
    Browns Game Preview
    Gameday Homepage




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