Jaguars 10, Bills 3: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
JACKSONVILLE, FLA – The end of the drought came and went swiftly as the Bills fell short to the Jaguars, 10-3, in their first playoff game since 1999.
It was a frustrating defeat, given the low score and the fact that Buffalo had plenty of chances to win. Regardless, it was a game and a week Bills fans won’t be forgetting about anytime soon, and a step in the right direction for a team that hasn’t had much of a direction this century.
A recap of the Bills first playoff game in 17 years with this week’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:
The BillsMafia – Bills fans, hats off to you. The week began with pure generosity from many of you who donated to Andy Dalton’s foundation – those donations have nearly reached $500,000 by the way. Then many of you traveled from all over THE WORLD to be there in person for Buffalo’s first playoff game in 17 years. You flooded bars and emptied them of beer, took over the X lot, broke plenty of tables and made your presence felt inside the stadium as well. There was plenty of red and blue to be seen around the city and EverBank Field. Well done, Bills fans. No city or region loves their NFL team quite like the BillsMafia loves their Bills. Even in defeat you certainly proved that.
LeSean McCoy – If McCoy’s ankle was bothering him – and by all accounts out there prior to kickoff it was – it didn’t show on the field. There was some tough-sledding early on, especially against a solid Jaguars d-line where Shady was skirting for just a few yards at a time. But he started to hit his stride in the second half, breaking off a game-high 25-yard run in the third quarter, which featured a nasty spin move. He led the team in rushing and receiving yards and recorded his first playoff game with 100+ yards from scrimmage. He finished with 19 carries for 75 yards on the ground and piled up another 44 yards through the air on six catches.
The Defense – In their effort to take away the run and make Blake Bortles throw the football, Buffalo’s defense was dominant from start to finish. Leonard Fournette was bottled up for just 16 yards in the first half and finished with 57 yards total as Bortles wound up being the Jaguars leading rusher on the day. They nearly had an incredible goal-line stand in the third quarter but blew the coverage on a fourth-and-one play-action pass. On top of that, the Bills held Jacksonville’s offense to two-of-12 on their third down attempts, surrendered their third lowest yardage total of the season, allowed just 10 points and forced nine punts. The only thing missing was a turnover or two. Regardless, their effort kept them in the game until the bitter end.
End of the first half – A dropped interception from Tre’Davious White on third down during Jacksonville’s second-to-last drive of the half paved way for a brutal three-and-out by the offense which featured two passes from their own 10 with under a minute to play. Then Colton Schmidt’s punt on fourth down traveled only 34 yards and set up Jacksonville at their own 47 with three timeouts and 40 seconds at their disposal. A few Bortles runs later and the Jaguars were in field goal range. Josh Lambo would ultimately squeeze in a 44-yard field goal to end the drive and tie things up at three. That sequence of three bad mishaps for the Bills changed the game entirely as they went from being up 3-0 – or more had White secured the interception, to being tied.
All Those Punts – The Bills and Jaguars combined for six three-and-outs and punted a whopping 17 punts. Exactly what you wanna see in the playoffs.
Containing Blake Bortles – As a whole, the Bills run defense was superb. Maybe the best they’ve been all season. But with all their attention focused on stopping Leonard Fournette, they forgot about Bortles’ mobility. Bortles ran for a career and team-high 88 yards on the day – more than his passing yards by the way. The worst part is this isn’t the first time he’s done this against Buffalo. His previous career high in rushing also came against the Bills in Week 12 last year.
Goal Line Decisions – The Bills continued to defy logic with goal line play calling. In the first half, Buffalo was gifted a first-and-goal situation after Jacksonville jumped into the neutral zone on a fourth down field goal attempt, and the first play from the one-yard line: a fade pass to Kelvin Benjamin. EDITOR’S NOTE: McCoy said after the game that the call was a run-pass option. Naturally, the pass was incomplete as Benjamin was called for offensive pass interference, which backed the Bills up to the Jaguars 11, and three plays later they were settling for a field goal. Why the Bills didn’t run the ball on first down from the one is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Even McDermott admitted that he wanted the play back.
The Offense – Early on it looked like Buffalo’s offense was destined for a good day. At the half, Tyrod Taylor had connected with nine different receivers and had 90 total yards. Meanwhile, they had dominated time of possession by more than 10 minutes at the break, as well as total yards (148-84), first downs (12-5) and third down conversions (5-1). Discouragingly, they went to the half tied at three. Things unraveled in the second half for Buffalo, when they held the ball for just 12 minutes, gained just 115 total yards, picked up eight more first downs and converted just two more third downs. Most importantly, they didn’t score again. Three points won’t win you a lot of games. Meanwhile, Taylor finished what may be his final outing as Buffalo’s quarterback with a forgettable 17-of-38 passing for 134 yards and one interception. He fell to 2-14 in games where he has 30 or more pass attempts.
Bortles the Passer –Bortles had 33 passing yards at the half, and he’d add just 54 more to finish the day with 87 total and a touchdown. As mentioned, he had more yards rushing on the day (88) than throwing. He was truly dreadful and was fortunate that two of his passes weren’t picked off as well. Had they been, we may be talking about a Bills win.