In a new series here at Buffalo Rumblings, we're going to take a look at one play in each of the next five Buffalo Bills games that permanently changed the flow of the game - for good or for bad - for Buffalo. In Sunday's 27-24 loss to the New York Giants, that play was Fred Jackson's 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
With Buffalo trailing 7-0 with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Bills were on the verge of yet another one of their patented slow starts. That changed in mere seconds when, on a first down run from his own 20-yard line, Jackson took a handoff out of the Pistol formation and raced 80 yards untouched for a tying score.
The Pistol formation is something often linked in conversation to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, but after an ill-advised attempt to use it with Trent Edwards in his first game as Bills coach last season, Gailey had largely scrapped the formation. It made a return in Week 6, and the formation was something that the Bills ran out of all day. Obviously, their most successful run out of the formation was this one.
Functionally, the play was a simple zone play, with fullback Corey McIntyre sealing the edge. Jackson had a huge hole to run through, Giants safety Deon Grant took a horrible angle to the football, and Jackson was off to the races.
Still, Jackson sacrifices some talents (like top-notch straight-line speed) for others (like impeccable instincts), and those were on display at the end of the run. Jackson, a Division III Coe College product, was being chased from behind by cornerback Aaron Ross, a top-flight athlete and recruit who played at one of the nation's most notorious schools for churning out professional defensive backs - Texas. Ross had the speed advantage, but Jackson almost universally has the instinct advantage. One little swerve to the left at the end of the run left Ross grasping at grass while Jackson cruised into the end zone.
There were bigger and more momentous plays in this game - either of Ryan Fitzpatrick's interceptions would've sufficed - but this play, seven minutes into the game, brought the Bills immediately out of the doldrums of a slow start and back into contention. Plus, it's just way more fun to talk about.