CLEVELAND — The Buffalo Bills' rushing attack marched on Sunday even without its premier playmaker.
Stepping in for the electrifying C.J. Spiller, Tashard Choice rushed 20 times for 91 yards in helping the Bills pick up a much-needed 24-14 road win at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Spiller was hurt on a clean play in the first quarter, when he was tackled by Browns defensive back Usama Young. Spiller's left shoulder was driven into the ground as Young landed on top of him after a 25-yard gain on a screen pass (a holding penalty on the play moved it back).
Spiller had earlier taken a screen pass 32 yards for a touchdown, the sixth straight game in which he has scored. That's the longest streak by a Bill since Thurman Thomas' six-game streak in 1990.
Coach Chan Gailey said after the game that his third-year running back did not suffer a broken collarbone.
"He's out for a week or two, but I don't know how extensive it is," Gailey said at the start of his news conference, later adding, "I don't believe it's long, long-term. If he misses a week, that's long for me."
As it was when Spiller stepped in for Fred Jackson in the season opener, the Bills stuck by their motto of "next guy up." Sunday, that was Choice.
He ripped off chunks of yardage in the second half in particular, the biggest of which was a 22-yard gain to start the Bills' final touchdown drive.
"When I saw C.J. go down I knew I had to step up and be ready to go. That's just how the game is, especially at our position," Choice said. "It was good to get a rhythm, good to get a chance to help my team out that way running the football."
Choice's production may have surprised some, but not Gailey.
"I think we all knew what he brought to our football team. Nobody else did because we've got two marquee guys," said Gailey, who was Choice's college coach at Georgia Tech. "It's great to have a guy like that on your football team that can go in and play the way he played."
The Bills have a chance at getting Jackson back from his knee injury for Sunday's home game against the New England Patriots, but have confidence in Choice to do the job if they don't.
"We know Tashard's capable of coming in," tight end Scott Chandler said. "And if you didn't know, he'll tell you so."
"I know he wore on some people during training camp, especially on defense," center Eric Wood said. "I don't think he could talk any more than he already does. But that's him and we have a lot of confidence in him as a player."
The excitable, 5-foot-10 running back is familiar with the role of third-string running back, having served behind Felix Jones and Marion Barber while with the Dallas Cowboys.
"Been here before, ain't my first rodeo," Choice said about stepping into the lineup. "That's something you gotta do. You take pride in that. You don't want to be the player they say, ‘Oh, he ain't good enough. The offense is stumbling because they don't have anybody to keep producing at that position.' That running back position, especially on this team, you gotta produce."
The Bills make sure to give their third running back some carries during the practice week, in case of a situation like Sunday's. Fourth stringer Johnny White even got a pair of carries, which he turned into 15 yards.
"It's bad because you know how explosive he is, but then again we got other players on the team to help him out while he's off the field," Choice said of the injury to Spiller. "We've got to have 11 guys working on offense to be good."
Choice's 91 yards were the most he's had since his only career 100-yard game, which came in a 38-35 overtime victory for the Cowboys on Dec. 5, 2010.
"Since I've been playing football, it's always been a case of: ‘You get a chance, you've got to make the most of your opportunities,' " he said.