Did Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Play Hurt?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills fumbles in the first half against the Washington Redskins at Rogers Centre on October 30, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

I get emails from Buffalo Bills conspiracy theorists multiple times per week. These emails are entirely harmless and detail the authors' opinions on a wide range of murky topics, ranging recently from what motives Stevie Johnson has in his apparent impending exodus from Buffalo to the idea that the Bills won't return to the playoffs until Billy Buffalo is replaced as the team mascot.

By far, however, the most popular conspiracy theorist email of late: Ryan Fitzpatrick played hurt for more than half of the 2011 season, and that's why he stunk as the year wore on. Most people point to the vicious hit to the ribs Fitzpatrick took from Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher in Week 8 as the proverbial breaking point in Fitzpatrick's - and Buffalo's - season.

Here are the facts of the matter: before that hit, Fitzpatrick was completing 67 percent of his passes at 7.6 yards per attempt with a 13-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. After the hit, he completed 59 percent of his passes at 6.2 yards per attempt with an 11-to-16 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Before the hit, the Bills had scored 198 points in 6.5 games of football; they scored 174 in the final 9.5.

You tell me, Bills fans: is there something to this?

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