Jackson Helps Undefeated Bills Stay Balanced

As much as Fitzpatrick has done to seal Buffalo’s two stunning comebacks, they’ve all been sparked by coach Chan Gailey’s willingness to stick with the run, and Jackson has delivered.

Jackson ignited a second-half rally against the Oakland Raiders that erased a 21-point deficit with a nifty 43-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter in Week 2, and his 1-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter against New England tied the game at 24.

“That’s what’s gotten us going, just in terms of Fred having those big runs,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s been important to us — not giving up on it, staying with it, getting some of those plus-10, plus-15 yard runs, that have really sparked our offense.”

After two weeks, Jackson led the league in rushing after a 112-yard day in Week 1 against Kansas City and a 117-yard performance against the Raiders. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 303 yards on 47 carries and three touchdowns, and his 6.4 yards-per-attempt is tied for the league-high with Oakland’s Darren McFadden.

Combine those numbers with Fitzpatrick averaging 280 yards passing per game, and suddenly the Bills offensive line doesn’t look as thin and inexperienced any longer.

“They’re doing a great job,” Jackson said about his teammates up front. “They’re doing a great job picking up blitzes, keeping Fitz up on his feet, opening up holes for C.J. (Spiller) and myself. As long as they continue to play well, we think we’ll continue to play well as an offense. Play in and play out we don’t have to worry about, ‘Are they going to get it right this time, are they going to get it right the next time?'”

Jackson’s hot hand has put on hold Gailey’s plan of utilizing Spiller more. The team’s top pick last year, Spiller has carried the ball just 10 times.

“He’s believed in me,” Jackson said about Gailey. “I think as long as he continues to believe in me, I’ll continue to try to make plays for him.”

That belief has given Gailey the luxury of not abandoning the ground game no matter what the deficit.

“It’s really important,” guard Andy Levitre said. “If you get a team thinking you’re just going to be throwing the ball all the time, and you can be successful with some run plays, you can get some big plays in there. I think we’ve had a few big plays like that this year so far.”

Jackson’s unique blend of finesse, power and strength makes tackling him a chore, and his uncanny ability to turn his body sideways when taking on a hit in the open field allows him to slip away from trouble.

“He never takes flush hits,” offensive coordinator/running backs coach Curtis Modkins said. “He’s a long back, but he’s able to give a defender only about a quarter of his body to hit.”

Jackson’s also adept at doing the other, blue-collar things that enamors him to Fitzpatrick.

“He’s awesome,” Fitzpatrick said. “My favorite football player I’ve ever played with. You see all the stuff that he does in terms of running the ball and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he’s also probably the best running back in the league in terms of picking up blitzes.

“He is a complete back.”

With 217 more yards, Jackson will move into fourth place on the all-time list for most rushing yards by an undrafted player, and his streak of appearing in 58 straight games at running back is the third-longest in the league among active NFL backs.

But even with his team’s unblemished 3-0 mark, Jackson’s thoughts are on matching the team’s four-win total from last year.

“It’s just three weeks,” he said. “We had more wins last year than where we’re at right now, and that’s kind of how we’re approaching it. We’ve gotten off to a great start, no doubt, but we have a lot of work that we can still look at and see where we can improve as an offense even with the stats we’re putting up now.”

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Atlanta Rallies, Knocking Out Vick in His Return

Ryan hit tight end Tony Gonzalez with two touchdown passes. Gonzalez surpassed Terrell Owens for fifth on the N.F.L.’s career receiving list. Ryan then hooked up with Ovie Mughelli on a 1-yarder that brought Atlanta to 31-28 with just over six minutes remaining.

The Falcons (1-1) completed the comeback as Michael Turner broke off a 61-yard run, then powered over from the 3 with 3 minutes 24 seconds left. Vick, in his return to Atlanta, left with a neck injury after being spun by a Falcons rusher into a Philadelphia blocker.

Thrilling Win for

After a wild back-and-forth fourth quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick found David Nelson wide open on fourth down for a 6-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to secure a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

A week after a 41-7 win at Kansas City, the Fitzpatrick-led offense produced a 35-point second half in overcoming a 21-3 first-half deficit.

Buffalo scored touchdowns on each of its five second-half possessions as the teams traded the lead five times in the final 14 minutes 10 seconds.

Romo Rebounds

Playing with a fractured rib, Tony Romo hit Jesse Holley on a 77-yard completion on Dallas’s first play of overtime to set up Dan Bailey’s winning 19-yard field goal, as the Cowboys rallied for a 27-24 victory over the 49ers. It was almost the exact reverse of what happened a week earlier: a 27-24 road loss to the Jets in which Dallas blew a late 14-point lead. Romo vowed to play his “best game” after his late interception contributed to that collapse, but even finishing the game was in doubt at halftime.

Romo emerged from the locker room after the second-half kickoff and walked briefly into the huddle, then immediately came off under doctor’s orders and headed back to the locker room.

Back on the sideline late in the third quarter, Romo tapped Jason Garrett on the shoulder and told him to put him back in.

“Eventually, what was convincing was, ‘At some point I’m going to play with this thing, so why not now?’ ” Garrett said, quoting Romo.

¶ The Steelers toyed with the Seahawks in a 24-0 victory at Heinz Field. Seattle (0-2) was held to 164 yards and did not take a snap on Pittsburgh’s side of the field until the fourth quarter. “We didn’t score a point, period, and that is just embarrassing,” Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said.

Newton Sharp in Loss

For the second straight week, Cam Newton threw for more than 400 yards, sidestepped pass rushers and moved the Panthers up and down the field. And for the second straight week, Carolina lost. Aaron Rodgers passed for 308 yards and 2 scores, and the Packers held off the Panthers, 30-23, despite a 432-yard passing day from Newton in his home debut. A week after passing for 422 yards — the most in league history by a rookie in his professional debut — Newton topped himself by setting a franchise single-game record. He passed for one touchdown and also ran for a 4-yard score with 37 seconds left, but the Packers (2-0) recovered the onside kick to seal their victory.

¶ Matthew Stafford threw two of his four touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson and the Lions routed the visiting Chiefs, 48-3. The win was the biggest in the regular season for Detroit (2-0), and matched its 45-point win over Cleveland in the 1957 N.F.L. title game. “We can play better,” Coach Jim Schwartz said with a shrug. The Chiefs (0-2), who were thrashed by the Bills in Week 1, have been outscored, 89-10, in their first two games.

¶ The Redskins beat the visiting Cardinals, 22-21, when Graham Gano’s 34-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining completed their comeback from an 8-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Santana Moss’s 18-yard catch on fourth down with 5:17 remaining pulled Washington (2-0) within 2, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed. After a punt, the Redskins got the ball back at their 36 with 4:20 to play and drove to Arizona’s 16 to set up Gano’s kick.

¶ Chris Johnson had his second straight subpar game, with 53 yards on 24 carries, but Matt Hasselbeck passed for 358 yards to lead the Titans over the visiting Ravens, 26-13. Rob Bironas kicked four field goals as Tennessee (1-1) held the ball for more than 35 minutes and outgained Baltimore, 432-229.

Around the League

¶ LeGarrette Blount’s 4-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left gave the Buccaneers a 24-20 victory over the Vikings, who blew a halftime lead and lost for the second week in a row.

¶ Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and the New Orleans defense recovered from a sloppy Week 1 effort by recording six sacks as the Saints beat the visiting Bears, 30-13. Jay Cutler was hit repeatedly, including once from behind by safety Malcolm Jenkins, after which he remained briefly on his knees with hands over each side of his helmet. “It was a long day out there,” he said.

¶ Willis McGahee ran for a touchdown and Eric Decker caught two touchdown passes as the Broncos beat the visiting Bengals, 24-22, to give John Fox his first win as Denver’s coach. Andy Dalton passed for 332 yards, hitting his fellow rookie A. J. Green 10 times for 124 yards and Jerome Simpson 4 times for 136 yards. Cincinnati has not won in Denver since 1975.

¶ The bumbling Dolphins lost to the Texans, 23-13, falling to 0-2 at home after committing two turnovers, having a 22-yard field-goal attempt blocked and missing a 34-yarder. The Texans improved to 2-0 for the second year in a row. Last season they faded to 6-10.

¶ With one Peyton (Manning) out, another Peyton (Hillis) overpowered defenders on two touchdown runs, leading the Browns to a 27-19 victory over the reeling Colts in Indianapolis. Starting again for Manning, Kerry Collins finished 19 of 38 for 191 yards with an interception, a touchdown and a lost fumble. The Colts are 0-2 for the first time since 1998.

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Bills WR Johnson Returns to Practice

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson returned to practice on Friday, and is expected to play on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Coach Chan Gailey said Johnson is officially listed as probable after getting the day off Thursday to rest a sore groin that has been bothering him the past month.

Cornerback Terrence McGee won’t play against Oakland (1-0) because of a hamstring injury sustained in Buffalo’s season-opening win at Kansas City. McGee is expected to be out for at least a couple more weeks.

Linebacker Arthur Moats (knee) is probable, but defensive lineman Torell Troup (back) is doubtful.

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