LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 25-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a 2023 Week 5 game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London Sunday
1. Calvin Ridley + Trevor Lawrence = Big Time. The Bills cut the lead to 18-13 with a 19-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Gabe Davis with 4:03 remaining, a play that set up a dramatic finish. One of the Jaguars' biggest plays of the season came on the ensuing possession. Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who turned in multiple big plays on this day, turned in his biggest when he got behind Bills cornerback Tyrel Dodson for a 32-yard pass from quarterback Trevor Lawrence to the Bills 37 on 3rd-and-4 from the Jaguars 31. "Calvin Ridley was the guy out there; he is that guy," Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen said of Ridley, who caught seven passes for 122 yards Sunday. The 32-yarder came with Lawrence and Ridley both seeing that the Bills were playing man coverage with no safety help. "That's like a great matchup, dream matchup for us, so I was excited, and we just took the shot," Lawrence said. Running back Travis Etienne Jr.'s 35-yard run capped the drive for a 25-13 lead with 2:56 remaining.
2. Big-time drive – and a touchdown. The Jaguars turned in three of their most impressive drives of the season in the second half Sunday. They got critical points on the last two of those drives. One was the one that ended with Etienne's 35-yard touchdown. Another came when Etienne Jr. scored on a six-yard run to cap a 93-yard drive and give the Jaguars an 18-7 lead with 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. That drive began after cornerback Darious Williams intercepted a deep pass from Bills quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs. This drive was one possession after a 17-play drive that ended with Lawrence's lost fumble. "You want your run game to be the closer, be the finisher," Etienne said.
3. He's back. The Jaguars missed Zay Jones. The veteran wide receiver showed how much in the first quarter Sunday. After punts on each team's first possession, Lawrence on 1st-and-10 from the 38 threw 30 yards to wide receiver Christian Kirk for a first down at the Bills 32. Jones, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury sustained in a Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, capped the drive by catching a high pass from Lawrence on 3rd-and-goal from the 6 and toe-tapping in the end zone for an early Jaguars lead. Etienne's two-point run around the right side came after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Buffalo moved the conversion from the two-yard-line to the one and gave the Jaguars an 8-0 lead with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter. Also key on this drive: A possession-opening 11-yard run by Ridley.
4. Sack/fumble. The Jaguars dominated much of the first half, leading 11-7 at halftime and leading in total yards by 232-139. But the Bills cut an eleven-point lead to seven with a 15-yard pass from Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs with 1:14 remaining in the second quarter and the Jaguars missed a chance to extend the lead late in the half. They drove from their 25 to the Bills 12 and faced 3rd-and-2 from there. Bills linebacker A.J. Epenesa got around Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson – returning Sunday after a four-game season-opening NFL suspension – for a sack/fumble on Lawrence. Epenesa recovered at the Bills 23 to end the threat and leave the Jaguars' lead at four points at halftime.
5. Oof. Everything went right for the Jaguars at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth – until it didn't. The Jaguars turned in an impressive, clutch drive that covered the final 7:56 of the third quarter and took them from their 8-yard-line to the Bills 23. But on the 17th play of the drive, defensive tackle Ed Oliver sacked Lawrence on 3rd-and-11 from the Bills 24 and Dodson recovered at the Buffalo 24 to end the threat. It was the second sack/fumble to cost the Jaguars points in less than 16 minutes and again kept the Jaguars from extending the lead from four points.
5a. Kirk a key. Kirk has been one of the Jaguars' most reliable players the past two seasons, and he proved to be as much again Sunday. His 30-yard reception gave the Jaguars early momentum and keyed their first touchdown drive, and he was crucial again on the ensuing drive. The Jaguars faced 3rd-and-5 from their 35 when Lawrence threw down the left side and hit Kirk for a 20-yard gain on the sideline in front of the cornerback and over the linebacker. A 14-yard pass from Lawrence to Ridley set up kicker Brandon McManus' 44-yard field goal that gave the Jaguars an 11-0 lead with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter.