Two straight victories for the Buffalo Bills have got fans extremely optimistic, and rightly so.
After crushing the Chiefs in Week 1, the Bills won their home opener this past Sunday in dramatic fashion, coming from behind to defeat the Oakland Raiders 38-35.
Much like the game in Kansas City, captains Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson led the charge, guiding their youthful squad to victory.
Jackson is leading the NFL in rushing, having accumulated 229 yards on the ground in the two games, including 117 against Oakland.
He was also used as the fifth receiver when the Bills were spreading the field on the winning drive without the injured Roscoe Parrish.
“He’s running the ball extremely well,” coach Chan Gailey said Monday. “He’s hitting the holes like we all know he can. He’s such a valuable player for us. He can protect, he can run routes, he can run the football inside and out.”
Fitzpatrick had a largely ineffective opening half, but finished the day 28-for-46 and 264 yards. He tossed three second-half touchdowns, including the winning strike to David Nelson with 14 seconds remaining.
Much of the success both Fitzpatrick and Jackson are having can be attributed to improved offensive line play.
Since trading left tackle Jason Peters to the Eagles in 2009, they have been very inconsistent along the front.
This year, the quintet has played much better as a unit, and it’s paying huge dividends for the two men lined up behind them.
But surrendering 35 points at home does raise some red flags for Gailey, especially with a Week 3 divisional matchup with the explosive New England Patriots looming.
“We gave up too many big plays,” Gailey said. “We gotta compete for the ball when it’s in the air.”
Raiders pivot Jason Campbell threw for 323 yards and two touchdowns. The revered Tom Brady has passed for nearly 1,000 yards just two weeks into the schedule.
While the two victories do provide some happiness for Bills fans, they may come crashing down to earth in a thunderous way when the Patriots invade Orchard Park.
Parrish is going to miss what Gailey referred to as “considerable time” with an ankle injury. That leaves the team with only four healthy receivers (Donald Jones, Stevie Johnson, Nelson and Buster Davis).
Nelson made the most of his opportunity, catching the winning six-yard touchdown pass.
“Every opportunity he’s taken advantage of and he’s done a good job,” Gailey said. “He understands what we’re trying to get done.”
A move for an additional receiver is uncertain at this point.
“If we think we have to make a move,” said Gailey, “if it looks more long-term than short-term, then we may have to make a move … we may just wait and see.”