Costly, ugly win for Bills
By Rob Longley, QMI Agency
| Fullback Corey McIntyre #38 of the Buffalo Bills wears vampire teeth as he runs off the field after their victory over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. Matt Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP
CLEVELAND - There is rarely anything easy on the eyes when it involves the Cleveland Browns, even from the perspective of a visiting team walking away with a win.
You want ugly football? Cleveland Browns Stadium is your place to find it.
Taking advantage of a rookie quarterback who played like it and a disinterested defence, the Buffalo Bills opened up a 14-0 lead in the first quarter here Sunday afternoon then did just enough the rest of the way to record their second win of the season. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes in the 24-14 victory before a sparse crowd on the southern shore of Lake Erie
The win — which means the Bills will exit Week 3 of the NFL season with at least a share of first place — came at a cost though, namely impressive second-year running back C.J. Spiller, who entered the contest as the league’s leading rusher through the first two weeks.
Moments after scoring the Bills’ second touchdown of the game, on a nifty 32-yard catch and run that dazzled the Browns defence, Spiller’s afternoon — and likely a handful more — come to an end when he separated his shoulder at the end of another long run.
Spiller, who filled in spectacularly for injured starter Fred Jackson, running for 292 yards through the first two games, is likely lost for a minimum of four weeks. Jackson, who injured his right knee during training camp, is a possibility to return next week.
With Spiller in the lineup Sunday, the Bills came out strong against a sloppy-looking Browns defence. Quarterback Fitzpatrick, who was awful in a Week 1 loss to the Jets and barely ordinary in alst week’s win against Kansas City came out looking sharp. By the time the game was 10 minutes old, the Bills were up 14-0 thanks to TD passes to Spiller and an eight-yarder to T.J. Graham.
But after Spiller’s injury, the Bills offence stalled for the most part and the Browns gradually fought their way back into the game. Rookie Trent Richardson cut that lead in half with a six-yard run with 2:12 remaining in the half.
The Browns made a game of it in the third quarter on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard pass from Weeden to a wide open Travis Benjamin in the right corner of the end zone to pull within 17-13. But early in the fourth quarter, the Bills responded with a long, plodding drive of their own that resulted in a nine-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson to give Buffalo a 24-14 lead.
Don’t get carried away about Fitzpatrick’s three-TD effort, however. While the offence was in control much of the day, most of his completions were short with little downfield threat all afternoon.
The Bills return home in Week 4 to face the New England Patriots who were in Baltimore Sunday night for a rematch of the AFC Championship against the Ravens. It’s the beginning of a six-game stretch against predominantly teams far stronger than the three they’ve faced so far.