Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson.
Those are the only two running backs to gain more rushing yards as Buffalo Bills than Fred Jackson.
“To be in the company with those guys is definitely something, when I’m done playing football, I can sit back and reflect on and be happy about,” Jackson said Sunday following the 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
For now, however, Jackson is less concerned with his spot in the record books and more worried about the Bills’ place in the standings. He played a big part in the team registering a check in the win column Sunday over the defending Super Bowl champions, rushing 16 times for 87 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The 32-year-old Jackson now has 4,487 yards on 980 carries with the Bills, passing Joe Cribbs (4,445) on Sunday. He’s got a long way to go to catch Thomas (11,938 yards) and Simpson (10,183), but it’s a remarkable career achievement for Jackson to move up to third.
“Everybody knows the story – undrafted, the way that he got here – it’s unbelievable,” the Hall of Famer Thomas said in the locker room following the Bills’ win. “It is an awesome feeling.”
The big question now for Jackson is when can he again add to that career total. The seventh-year veteran spent a good deal of time in the team’s training room after the game. When he finally emerged, he said he had suffered a torn MCL in his left knee. The same injury ended his 2012 season – to his right knee – but he said that this injury is not as significant.
“It’s a physical game, so guys are going to be sore, but that’s something we just have to manage on a short week,” Jackson said, referring to the Bills’ Thursday night game at Cleveland. “We’ve got to get in, take care of the bumps and bruises and get ready to hit the ground going, because Cleveland has the same week, but they’re going to come out swinging. I’m sore, but I’ll be ready to go. … It’s something that we can manage and I expect to play.”
Jackson was the leading rusher on a day when Bills ran the ball an astounding 55 times – against a defense that ranked fourth in the NFL against the run coming into the game – and threw it just 22. That rushing total is the 10th highest total in team history, and the most since 1996.
“We definitely wanted to run the ball,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t have guessed that it would have been 55 to 22, though. It was something we wanted to get established early was the running game so we could take some of that pressure off EJ Manuel. We were able to do that, make things a little bit simpler for him and we got a win because of it.
“It was a big challenge for us. We knew that coming in. We knew it would be a measuring stick. To be where we want to be, who we want to be, we have to be able to run the ball.”
Just who will be running it Thursday against the Browns remains to be seen.
Starter C.J. Spiller suffered a left ankle injury Sunday. He had X-rays following the game.
“It wasn’t anything broken, that’s one thing they did say,” Spiller said, referring to the team’s training staff. “Structurally everything was good, so I think it might just be a sprain.”
Spiller and Jackson ran seven straight times in the second quarter to set up Manuel for play action, which he executed perfectly on a 42-yard touchdown pass to receiver Robert Woods.
On the play, Jackson took out a blitzing safety.
“We knew that with the play action and the way we were running the ball, it’d be an opportunity to get those safeties coming and we did. Got it picked up and he was able to hit Woods in stride,” Jackson said. “We established the run game early. It gave us some opportunities to win one-on-one outside.”