|Ryan Fitzpatrick turned in a strong performance at quarterback for the second consecutive week. (US Presswire)|
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Bills persevered and improved to 2-1 following a 24-14 win over the Cleveland Browns. Buffalo lost standout RB C.J. Spiller to a left shoulder injury late in the first quarter, and it took the Bills some time to find their footing over the next two quarters. But they held on and picked up another win, which was important as they head into their most difficult stretch of the year.
The loss of Spiller was a significant blow, no doubt. Spiller led the league in rushing through Week 2. But Tashard Choice filled in nicely with Spiller out, rushing for 91 yards on 20 carries. The Bills asked QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to manage the game for the second week in a row, and he responded accordingly (22 of 35, 208 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs). Fitzpatrick could still show some improvement with his accuracy.
Cleveland RB Trent Richardson had a breakout performance in Week 2, but the Bills effectively bottled him up in Week 3. Richardson had just 27 yards on 12 attempts (2.3 yards per carry) along with one TD. The biggest improvement for the Bills was their pass rush. With the game on the line, the defensive line turned it up in the fourth quarter and made big plays when it mattered most. Mario Williams (1.5) and Mark Anderson (1) had their first sacks as Bills.
Special teams: B
Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs had a 27-yard punt return, but was mostly held in check. Leodis McKelvin had a 33-yard punt return and a 34-yard kick return and continues to impress as Buffalo’s primary returner. Rian Lindell connected on his first field goal attempt of the season.
The Bills didn’t panic following the loss of Spiller, which was important. They stuck with their gameplan, which involved a heavy dose of the running game, and it paid off in the end. Fitzpatrick has performed better ever since the Bills have given him more of a “game manager” role.
For more updates on the Bills, follow correspondent Mark Ludwiczak on Twitter @CBSBills and @MarkLud12.