Things got a little bleak for a while after the Bills lost running back C.J. Spiller to a left shoulder injury, but the team was able to recover in time to take a 24-14 victory in Cleveland.
The Browns outscored the Bills 14-3 over the second and third quarters, closing a big early Buffalo lead to a slim 17-14 gap. The Bills were able to rebound with a 68-yard drive in the fourth that ended with a Stevie Johnson touchdown catch. Tashard Choice, who replaced Spiller, had a 22-yard run to set up that score and Choice provided strong work over the course of the game in place of Spiller. Choice finished with 91 yards on 20 carries for the day, an effective performance that helped the Bills hold on for the win that bumps them up to a 2-1 record.
It wasn’t a particularly pretty performance overall for the Bills offense, but they did put up 10 points in the second half after losing Spiller and the electricity he brings to the offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick could have been better, but he didn’t turn the ball over in the second half and hand the Browns an easier shot at winning than they could come up with on their own.
Cleveland’s comeback efforts would have been helped by a more consistent performance by their starting quarterback. Brandon Weeden had some strong moments, particularly while going 8-of-12 for 75 yards on the drive that brought the team back within a field goal. He wound up 27-of-43, though, and threw two late interceptions that killed any chance of the Browns making a second bid to move on top of the Bills.
Trent Richardson can only aspire to erratic, though. He picked up just 27 yards on 12 carries as he started very slowly and never really picked up as the game went along because of the score and the Buffalo defense. The Bills unit closed well with the picks and four sacks of Weeden to go with the strong work against the run. It’s two strong efforts in a row for that unit after a rough start against the Jets.
They survived without him today, but Spiller’s status will be a key for the Bills going forward. The offense needs a playmaker of his ability when matched with better opposition than they had on Sunday.