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What we learned: Jaguars 10, Bills 3

Posted Jan 8, 2018

Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game at EverBank Field

JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars’ 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Sunday’s AFC Wild Card game at EverBank Field

1.The Jaguars won a playoff game. This is obvious, but it’s oh-so important. The Jaguars on Sunday afternoon won a postseason game for the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since 2007. That’s significant stuff.

2.The ‘Bank is a home-field advantage … The Jaguars have won six consecutive games at EverBank Field dating to a mid-October loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Remember when people thought not being able to win in Jacksonville was a thing? Remember how silly that was even then? There’s a reason teams play for home-field advantage; the energy in the ‘Bank Sunday was the reason.

3. … a real home-field advantage. Remember those stories and Tweets last week about how Bills fans were going to take over the ‘Bank? What happened to that?

4.Blake Bortles is 1-0 as an NFL starting quarterback in the postseason. Before we get to what Bortles didn’t do Sunday, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what he did do. He won – and because winning is important, it’s important to note that.

5.Doug Marrone is 1-0 an NFL head coach in the postseason. There are other candidates for NFL Coach of the Year this season, and a lot of candidates have merit. But the Jaguars were 3-13 last season and won their 11th game of the season on Sunday. Credit Marrone for keeping a young, emotional team steady enough to be among the eight teams still playing professional football.

6.Blake Bortles struggled Sunday … It’s easy to say, “Well, so what? Bortles always struggles.” But while that’s easy to say, it’s not true. Bortles played well in a lot of games this season, particularly in early December. But he was inaccurate early Sunday and needed to run to will the Jaguars to victory. The wind was a real factor Sunday, so perhaps that affected Bortles. But this was not his best passing day.

7. … but he made plays when it counted. Bortles passed for just 87 yards Sunday, but he rushed for 88 – and it seemed every rush was critical. He rushed for a combined 52 yards on the Jaguars’ scoring drives, and Bortles was at his best on an 86-yard third-quarter drive that gave the Jaguars a 10-3 lead and proved to be the difference. Bortles statistically had a really rough day, but this was the biggest game of his career – and the first playoff game of his career. And he won. So …

8.The Jaguars’ run-game issues are real. The Jaguars finished the regular season as the NFL’s No. 1-ranked rushing offense. They spent most of the season in that spot, too. But this is a team right now that struggles when turning and handing the ball to the running back. Jaguars backs rushed for 62 yards on 23 carries Sunday and that’s no fluke. That trend has defined the second half of the season.

9.The offense must get better. A lot better. The Jaguars drove 86 yards on 15 plays with seven first downs for their lone touchdown Sunday. They never had the ball more than six plays, never gained more than 27 yards and never had more than two first downs on any of their other 11 drives.

10.Jalen Ramsey is the NFL’s Next Great Cornerback. If not him, who?

11.The Jaguars’ secondary has elite ball skills. Marrone has talked about this all season, but it was on full display Sunday. Cornerback Aaron Colvin tipped a first-half interception to himself and made a diving catch for the Jaguars’ first turnover. And Ramsey’s game-sealing fourth-quarter interception was the sort of play only the sport’s best athletes make.

12.The Jaguars’ defense is for real. It hasn’t been perfect this season, but it has been dominant more often than not. The Jaguars on Sunday allowed three points, none in the second half. The Bills had four possessions after the Jaguars took a 10-3 lead. They never moved closer than the Jaguars 38-yard line. That’s big-time defense when it matters most.

13.Myles Jack is critical to this defense. The second-year veteran had six tackles, and made key plays at key times. One of his two passes defensed led to Colvin’s interception. His sack forced a fourth-quarter punt. He had another tackle for loss. Impact.

14.Calais Campbell was ready for the postseason. Campbell didn’t register a sack, but don’t overlook the veteran’s impact Sunday. Six tackles, four hurries. He finds a way to make an impact beyond sacks.

15.The Jaguars are moving on. That’s all that counts in the postseason. The Jaguars will play the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Sunday at 1:05 p.m. They’re still in it. That’s obvious, but oh-so important.



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