Niagara Gazette

Sports

September 24, 2012

Bills line saves the day

COMMENTARY

CLEVELAND — As dazzling as he can be, C.J. Spiller is not indispensable.

As much as the Buffalo Bills lack a suitable replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not irreplaceable.

It sure is an unremarkable group of receivers beyond Stevie Johnson, but Fitz would still find ways to move the ball without his top pass-catcher.

That the Bills offense can function with so many spare parts is a testament to coach Chan Gailey’s ingenuity, but also the collective strength of its unsung offensive line.

Without a household name in the bunch, the Bills’ blockers keyed Sunday’s 24-14 win over the Browns and showed that as long as this unit remains relatively healthy, the wheels won’t fall off the wagon no matter how thin the team gets at the skill positions.

The Bills were temporarily deflated when C.J. Spiller was knocked out of the game in the first quarter, but in the end, third string running back Tashard Choice was able to amass 91 yards on 20 carries, and his backup, Johnny White, picked up another 15 yards on two totes.

Over the last 19 regular season games, Buffalo running backs have averaged 5.37 yards per carry, while Buffalo quarterbacks have been sacked a league-low 24 times.

The only sack the Bills have given up this season wasn’t really a sack at all. If not for Fitzpatrick losing a fumble in the rain Sunday, the Bills would’ve become just the seventh team since 1970 to allow zero sacks in the first three games.

I’m not going to go so far as to say the Bills have the best offensive line in the league. But can you point to a group that is playing any better?

“If I were building a team, they are exactly what I would want,” defensive lineman Kyle Williams said Sunday. “They’re all tough, blue-collar guys. They play hard, they care about each other, and they care about the team.”

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