It only took four years for the Bills to get a regular season victory in Toronto. They did it in the same manner they have won nearly every game this season, on the back of Fred Jackson.
Jackson ran roughshod over the Washington Redskins and amassed 194 yards in offense as the Bills shut out the Skins 23-0. The Bills are 3-1 against the NFC East and face Dallas in two weeks. Jackson’s performance was backed by a banner defensive day. The Bills racked up nine sacks and blocked a field goal on one of the two threatening drives Washington was able to manufacture.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had another efficient afternoon, tossing two touchdown passes and hitting for over 250 yards. Great numbers from the man with the new contract. Still, Sunday was all about Jackson.
Jackson broke off three big plays that led directly to Bills points and was generally unstoppable for the entire afternoon. It is high time he get a new contract from the Bills. A really big contract. There is something to be said about the guy who gets plenty of attention from the TV crew. It isn’t just that he will run angry or never gives up. Jackson’s jersey was tattered and the stripes on his helmet were shredded from his effort. No worries though, Jackson just kept rolling as the motor that drives the Bills offense.
Defensively, the Bills were expected to be in for an easy afternoon due to all of Washington’s injuries. Buffalo made sure to take advantage of that situation. Marcell Dareus was dominant at nose tackle and Arthur Moats as a factor on the edge all game. While signing Shawne Merriman was the right move – there was nothing to lose in doing so – Moats seems to have a higher motor at this point. Seeing Moats have a positive impact on the game was huge. There were times that Merriman’s presence on the field did help the Buffalo defense, despite not getting tangible results (sacks), he had a positive impact on the team result. Losing him opened a hole that could have proven to be disastrous. Clearly Arthur Moats is a capable NFL pass rusher and there is no reason to move him back inside. Ever.
There should be some tempering after this game. The Redskins were seriously banged up and had a bad enough offense to begin with. So, maybe the Bills had an easier road than in previous games. Still, they held an NFL team off the scoreboard for an entire game. They will face a far more difficult task against the Jets next week and will certainly have their hands full against the Cowboys too.
The next four games present an opportunity for the Bills to really establish a strong foothold on a playoff spot. Facing the Jets twice, the Dolphins and the Cowboys, Buffalo needs to be no worse than 2-2. The Dolphins game needs to be a sure win, while there should be a victory against the Jets. Assume this week is a must win against an up-and-down team at the Ralph. The Bills need to win that one. That gives a free pass for the road game in New York and a pass against the Cowboys. Now, there is no reason not to beat Dallas, but they are a Jekyll and Hyde team much like the Giants. Buffalo could see their best or they could see them at their worst. Based on that set of four games, Buffalo would enter the final five weeks with a 7-4 (or better) record with three potential gimmies between Tennessee, Miami and Denver.
That would all but guarantee a Wild Card spot for a team that hasn’t seen the post season since the 90s.