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After fretting last week about having running backs Fred Jackson or C.J. Spiller in the lineup for Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots, it turned out the Buffalo Bills had both.
Not that it much mattered.
Jackson and Spiller combined for 26 touches and produced 107 yards, but each lost costly fumbles in the Bills' humiliating 52-28 loss at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"It does not sit well, especially if you want to get to the postseason," Spiller said. "You have to be able to win these types of games and we understand that."
Both Jackson and Spiller said afterward they came out of the game without doing further damage to their respective injuries - a sprained right knee for Jackson and sprained left shoulder for Spiller.
"It's sore. It's what's expected, nothing new," Jackson said.
"Of course I'm not 100 percent healthy but I felt like I could go out [Sunday]," Spiller said. "The main thing that I said was if I could get out there and be effective I am going to get out there."
Spiller finished with eight carries for a team-leading 33 yards, but lamented a fumble late in the first half at the Patriots' 1-yard line that left the Bills 3 feet short of a 21-7 lead. Spiller was hit by New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on the play, but denied that his injury in any way led to the fumble.
"That was totally crucial. That was the turning point of the game," Spiller said
. "That is totally on me. Nobody else, that was me. I just have to do a better job of securing the ball, especially down there. It was a big momentum swing with our defense getting a turnover [that set the Bills up at the New England 21-yard line]. And for us to walk away with nothing . you can not do that and win games."
Jackson wasn't immune to the fumbleitis, either. He coughed up the ball in the fourth quarter with the Bills trailing, 28-21. The Patriots extended their lead to 14 points six plays later.
"If you have turnovers like that they're going to take advantage of them," Jackson said.
"We didn't do enough in the second half to help our defense."
A Bills' rushing attack that came into the game averaging 178 yards per game (5.6 per rush), third best in the NFL, finished with just 98.
"I mean, you have to tip your hat off [to the Patriots]," Spiller said. "Those guys are a top 10 run defense. . We knew coming into this game that we were going to have to get north and south, so it was not a surprise to anybody. They just did a good job of putting all their hats around the football."
The Patriots in particular set the edge well, limiting the Bills' chances to make big plays outside.
"They were doing a good job of slowing us down and making us restart by leaving a hang guy out there," Spiller said.
Spiller and Jackson rotated series for most of the game in an effort to keep both backs fresh and get them touches. Jackson carried a team-high 13 times, but managed 29 yards. He did catch three passes for 50 yards, including a 34-yard gain in the second quarter on a highlight-reel catch over his shoulder.
"I think I played OK, but I didn't make enough plays, obviously, to help us win," Jackson said. "I had a key turnover that didn't help. There are a lot of things I can go look at and correct."
Both Jackson and Spiller were quick to say the Bills need to quickly put Sunday's loss behind them.
"We put ourselves in a little hole, but we are not going to panic. There is a lot of football left to be played," Spiller said.
"We will just go back, regroup and come Wednesday we will be ready for San Francisco."

email: jskurski@buffnews.com