Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- It wasn't until after Fred Jackson's injury on opening weekend in 2012 that Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller finally started fulfilling all the potential the team had hoped when they selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Without any pressure, Spiller went on to have a dynamic season with a yards per carry average that rivaled the best running back in the league.
Fast forward to last Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, for the first time in his professional career Spiller was the focal point of the offense. The perceived notion was that as Spiller goes, the Bills go.
After the 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots, Spiller was merely a bystander on the sidelines for a few of the team's late opportunities. His afternoon ended with only 41 yards on 17 carries, and 14 yards on five receptions.
That wasn't exactly the debut he had been hoping for.
"Well Sunday, I think I kind of let it get to me too much because I wanted to make plays for my team," Spiller said regarding the attention he's receiving from opposing defenses. I knew going into the game what their focus was going to be, and I think it's going to be like that for the rest of the year."
To some, it didn't appear as though Spiller was his normal self against New England -- or at least the one he portrayed in 2012. The running back admitted that he was letting the rookie version of himself take center stage last weekend.
"That was just me trying to be impatient, trying to revert back to some of my old habits," Spiller remarked Wednesday. "I was forcing it. Instead of just letting that big play come, I was looking for that big play each time. And it hurt us, and it hurt me."
His early struggles paved the way for the 32-year old Jackson in getting substantial time on the field, rushing for 67 yards on 13 carries and 41 yards on four receptions. Because he wasn't making it as easy on himself as he could have and just let the offensive line pave the way, Spiller grew even more impatient as the game continued.
"Especially the one when I let the safety tackle me one-on-one," Spiller recalled, referring to his longest run -- a 9-yard gain ending in a big hit from New England safety Steve Gregory. "I kind of got frustrated right there in that moment, because I feel I should win that battle every time. My offensive line did a great job of getting me to the secondary, they expect me to win and I didn't."
The Patriots defense showed Spiller respect by loading the box with defenders, with the expectation that Spiller would be the recipient of a hand-off or a reception. New England knew he was the focal point, and they didn't shy away from trying to stop him.
"Now I kind of get a feel of what Adrian Peterson faces week in and week out. My biggest thing is I just have to go back to my basics," Spiller said. "The great thing is that I worked extremely hard today to correct that, and I think that once I look at the film, I'll be pleased with today's practice."
From that performance the Bills and Spiller have no other choice but to move on and prepare for their second game of the season, this time a home contest against the Carolina Panthers.
It will be a stiff test for Buffalo. They're up against a Panthers defense that allowed just 70 yards rushing to an accomplished Seattle team during Week 1.
"I have to," Spiller said of forgetting past failures and getting ready for his next test. "If you want to become one of the great players you have to be able to, win or lose, put that game behind you and move on. I'm not worried about that performance derailing or going to have an effect on the whole season."
The Bills and Panthers square off Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.