C.J. Spiller glanced up at the videoboard and hit the “fast forward” button, determined not to make the same mistake twice.
“I just try to see how close they are,” the Buffalo Bills’ running back said. “I thought they were pretty close, so that’s why I hit another gear.”
At the end of his 66-yard touchdown catch, there wasn’t a New York Jet in sight. Spiller’s score, which came a on a career-long reception in the second quarter, gave the Bills a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 28-9 win over New York in the season finale Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
It also came a week after a career-long 62-yard run in Miami, a play on which he didn’t reach the end zone.
“I told myself that I let the guys down last week. I just wanted to have another opportunity to get in the open field and it wouldn’t happen again,” he said.
Spiller rarely let the Bills down this season.
He became the first player to gain at least 1,700 yards from scrimmage (finishing with 1,703) since Travis Henry in 2002. The big caveat to that, though: Spiller had 250 touches this season, Henry had 368.
“Spiller made a great play on the screen pass – he’s an explosive athlete and he made a great play,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
“He’s obviously one of the better players on our team and a guy you can build a franchise around because he’s so explosive,” center Eric Wood said.
Spiller’s contribution came on a day when he was actually held to his lowest yards per carry average of the season. He gained 59 yards on 24 carries – an average of 2.5 per rush. That lowered his season average from 6.5 yards per carry coming into the game to 6.0, second in franchise history among backs with at least 200 carries to the 6.03 O.J. Simpson averaged in his 2,000-yard season in 1973. Spiller’s average made him just the seventh player in NFL history to average at least 6 yards per carry on 200 attempts.
“They stacked it up in there, but we kept trying it to him because he popped one early and we got it called back,” coach Chan Gailey said. “You just keep handing it to him thinking, ‘OK, one of these times he’s going to get one that pops out of there.’ ”
Cue all Bills fans asking in unison: “Now you say that?”
A season-long complaint about Gailey was his use of Spiller. The third-year veteran’s 24 carries Sunday were a career high.
“I don’t even know how many carries I had, to be honest with you,” he said after the game. “I didn’t feel that I took a pounding like that. I was just trying to take what they were giving me.”
Spiller had some added incentive Sunday after being a Pro Bowl snub.
“Without a doubt, that just lit a fire inside me,” he said. “I wasn’t more disappointed for myself that I didn’t go, I was disappointed for my guys. My big hogs up there blocking. Those guys have done a great job all year long.”
The Pro Bowl is just one log on the motivational fire for Spiller.
“Us not making the playoffs, that’s two logs right there,” he said. “All the questions are going to be, ‘Can he do it again?’ I love that. ... That’s another log to add to the fire. There’s a lot of motivation going into this offseason.
“My work ethic that I put in over this last offseason, it paid off. I just want to try to build on the success that I had, try to duplicate it and make it better and then this time around next year, we’ll be talking playoffs.”