The play that might have ruined Buffalo's 2011 season (Credit: Luc Leclerc-US PRESSWIRE)

David Nelson Claims Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Played Hurt in 2011

It was hard not to notice the massive drop off in Ryan Fitzpatrick’s production in the second half of the 2011 season. His accuracy, so good early on, was suddenly pretty awful.

Well, there was a good reason for that.

Bills WR David Nelson told NBC Sports Friday that Fitzpatrick suffered cracked ribs during Buffalo’s win over Washington in Week 8. “A lot of people don’t know, but Fitz during the Washington game actually cracked a couple of ribs. So after that, he was playing hurt,” Nelson said.

While that game went just about perfectly for the Bills, Fitz took a huge hit from Redskins LB London Fletcher that laid him out (pictured at right). Probably not coincidentally, Fitzpatrick’s stats took a nosedive after that.

Pre-London Fletcher: 67% comp., 13 touchdowns, 7 interceptions (5-2 record)
Post-London Fletcher: 59% comp., 11 touchdowns, 16 interceptions (1-8 record)

So I’m already on record as saying that I’m incredibly optimistic about the 2012 season. The Bills are really in position to make a true run at the postseason, and this only fuels my optimism.

Does the injury totally excuse Fitz’s struggles down the stretch? Of course not. But it sure does explain a lot. And gives you reason to hope that the Fitz we saw in the first half of the season is closer to the “real” Fitz than the one we saw later on.

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