By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) - Ryan Fitzpatrick began to earn his big raise firing two touchdown passes as the Buffalo Bills crushed the Washington Redskins 23-0 on Sunday to finally record their first regular season win in Canada.
Fitzpatrick, who inked a new six-year $59 million deal on Friday, connected with tight end Scott Chandler on a pair of touchdowns and Fred Jackson ran for 120 yards as the Bills improved to 5-2 and surpassed their win total from last year.
Rian Lindell added three field goals to the Buffalo cause as the Bills continued their domination over Washington (3-4), having won all six meetings since a Super Bowl loss in 1992.
It was also the first regular season win in Canada for the Bills (5-2), who signed a five-year, $78 million deal with Toronto-based Rogers Communication in 2008 to play one home game in Toronto each year at the domed Rogers Center.
"That was one of the things coming in to give them (the fans) something to cheer about," Fitzpatrick, the Harvard grad who became the Bills highest paid player ever, told reporters. "There was some excitement out there today, more than there has been in years past."
An energetic Buffalo defense also made a big contribution recording their first shutout since 2006 against the banged up Redskins, who were without top receiver Santana Moss and running back Tim Hightower.
John Beck, making his second start of the National Football League season since taking over for ineffective Rex Grossman, was intercepted twice and sacked nine times by a Bills defense that had just four sacks coming into the contest.
"I'll be honest with you, I didn't expect that."
While the agreement to play in Toronto has provided the small market Bills with a financial boost, Toronto has been slow to embrace the team as their own, the annual contest once again failing to produce a sellout pulling in an announced crowd of 51,579 in the 54,000 seat stadium.
"Today was a lot better," said Gailey when asked out the Canadian reception. "The crowd was into it, it helped us.
"It helped us when they had the ball. They had to call a couple of time outs because of the noise."
A brilliant autumn afternoon had thousands of smiling NFL fans milling around the stadium looking to party but many were left frustrated as they were forced into long lineups and herded into beer gardens.
A big part of the NFL experience includes the pre-game ritual of tailgating, where fans gather in parking lots to barbecue and drink, but open fires and consuming alcohol in public are against the law in Toronto, spoiling the fun for American gridiron fans who made the trip north.
Coming off a bye week, the well-rested Bills got the dome rocking early as Fitzpatrick connected with Chandler for a 20-yard touchdown to cap a workmanlike 80-yard drive.
Buffalo stormed out of the break, Fred Jackson scampering 43-yards on the first play from scrimmage before Fitzpatrick connected with Chandler on another touchdown strike.
The Bills defense then took charge and Lindell closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 41-yard field goal as the fading Redskins absorbed their third straight defeat.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)