By the way, did you notice C.J. Spiller? While other Buffalo Bills took the spotlight Sunday, their star running back quietly had a Spilleresque performance in a 24-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
A week ago, Spiller looked like a doe-eyed rookie. He fumbled on his second carry to set up an easy New England Patriots touchdown. He averaged 2.4 yards a carry and 2.8 yards a catch.
Against the Panthers’ run defense, which limited old friend Marshawn Lynch to 43 yards on opening day, Spiller produced.
Spiller ran 16 times for 103 yards, averaging a familiar 6.4 yards per carry. He also caught four passes for 26 yards. And he didn’t fumble.
“It’s just one game,” Spiller said, “but it does feel good to start getting back into the groove.”
Six of his 20 touches went for first downs, including a 12-yard catch-and-run on the game-winning drive.
Buffalo struggled last week to conjure chunk gains and was the lone team entering Week Two without an offensive play of at least 20 yards. Buffalo had five of them Sunday. Spiller was responsible for two.
“I just had fun,” Spiller said. “Last week I was very frustrated, and they just took me out of my game.”
Spiller had Buffalo’s longest gain, a 46-yard run in the fourth quarter to help set up a field goal. He also had runs of 10 yards and 21 yards in the first quarter.
“Just give credit to my offensive line,” Spiller said. “They blocked those guys up, and I made up my mind to get back to being patient and take what they’re giving me, and on certain plays they were giving us a lot.”
Spiller also had a 28-yard run wiped out by a Lee Smith holding penalty in the second quarter.
Spiller, though, wasn’t without his dicey moments. Three of his runs were for negative yards, including losses of 2 yards and 9 yards on Buffalo’s first possession after halftime.
The Bills began a Wall of Fame tradition by issuing navy-blue sport coats to its honorees during a halftime ceremony.
Eighteen Wall of Famers attended or were represented by their families. Deceased members received framed jacket displays.
“A weekend like this just brings back so many memories,” legendary quarterback Jim Kelly said. “Every time I walk in the stadium I look up at the names and realize how privileged you are not only to be up on the wall, but to be associated with all the guys on that wall.
“You realize, especially me personally, that I didn’t get there because of just what I did. It’s because of the people around me. Coach Levy is the reason I’m on that wall because he had enough guts back in the day to let a quarterback wearing No. 12 to call all the plays.”
Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy countered: “The thing is I could never get a word in edgewise with him. He handled it magnificently.”
Bills founder Ralph Wilson did not attend. In a statement released by the club, Wilson explained “travel continues to be a challenge for me.” Wilson’s 95th birthday is next month.
Wilson has been to one Bills game since the start of the 2011 season.
Bills coach Doug Marrone cried in his postgame news conference when speaking about the loss of friend Rob Edson, a former Syracuse athletics administrator.
“I’m having a difficult time,” said Marrone, the head coach at Syracuse for four seasons before joining the Bills. “It’s a personal situation.”
Edson, 45, had a heart attack while mowing his lawn Saturday. Edson had been the athletic director at Onondaga Community College since 2011.
“He’d always come in after the games and kind of cheer me up and pick me up and keep things in perspective,” Marrone said.
“I know that Rob was watching, and I can’t stop thinking about that. When that game was coming down to the end … My prayers just go out for him and his family.”
Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd (feet) was scratched for the second time. Also deactivated for the Bills were receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand), tight end Chris Gragg (healthy), guard Doug Legursky (knee), cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and Ron Brooks (foot), and kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin).
Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus left the game in the first quarter because of a bruised calf, but he returned.
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson admitted to having some sort of hand injury but said he will be OK.