The Buffalo Bills (5-9) held on for a gritty 14-13 win over the Detroit Lions Sunday at New Era Field in a game that, by its conclusion, saw the Bills with exactly zero healthy running backs available for action.
While rookie Keith Ford (14 carries for 46 yards) and Marcus Murphy (11 carries for 35 yards) enjoyed some success against the Lions, there was one run that really made a difference in the game, and helped a current Bill avoid a dubious distinction.
Trailing 13-7 on their first possession of the second half, the Bills faced a second-and-eight situation from their own 39-yard line.
Already missing the services of running backs LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory (ruled out before the game), and Murphy (who left the game a dislocated elbow), the Bills lined up in the shotgun formation. Josh Allen took the snap and handed off to... fullback Patrick DiMarco, who entered play with three career carries for negative-two yards.
DiMarco, who didn’t have a rushing attempt in Buffalo’s first 13 games, took the ball and ran off right tackle for a nine-yard gain. Not only was it a career-best rush for DiMarco, he is now eligible for Final Jeopardy, as the run brought him back into positive yardage for his career with a whopping seven career rushing yards.
“I’ve got to know all the fullback stuff, all the tailback stuff, and most of the tight end stuff, just in case something happens.... We only had two tight ends up, so if one of them goes down, we can’t lose personnel groups.... I prepared for everything this week, and the preparation helped out,” DiMarco told The Buffalo News. “I think I finally got myself out of a negative average. Shoot, I can probably retire now.”
By the end of the game, even DiMarco and Ford missed time with minor injuries. Hopefully the Bills will have their full stable of running backs available for the Week 16 showdown in Foxboro with the New England Patriots (9-5).
For those who are curious, the last Bills player to end a season with negative rushing yards was Reggie Bush, who ran 12 times for negative-three yards in 2016 (although Bush did have a touchdown run that year).