JACKSONVILLE – Throughout the second, the Jaguars fought, clawed and scraped – and that nearly was enough to rally in dramatic fashion.
With running back Jordan Todman rushing for more than 100 yards in his first career start, the Jaguars rallied to tie the Buffalo Bills in the second half Sunday, but two second-half red-zone turnovers proved costly as the Bills held on for a 27-20 victory in front of 60,085 at EverBank Field.
The Jaguars, after trailing since early in the second quarter, tied the game early in the fourth quarter 20-20 late when tight end Marcedes Lewis turned a short pass from quarterback Chad Henne into a 13-yard touchdown.
The Bills retook the lead on the ensuing drive, moving 80 yard in nine plays and scoring when quarterback E.J. Manuel passed one yard to fullback Frank Summers.
Henne completed 21 of 36 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions and Manuel completed 17 of 24 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
The Jaguars had a chance to tie late, but Henne's pass from the 5-yard line was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Stephen Gilmore on a pass intended for Todman.
The Jaguars inched back into the game in the second half, running well in the third quarter and cutting a 10-point halftime lead to 20-13 when Josh Scobee converted a 55-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Todman, who had 109 yards rushing for the Jaguars in his first career start while playing for injured Maurice Jones-Drew, rushed for 68 yards in the third quarter.
The Jaguars missed a chance to cut into the lead earlier in the quarter when Denard Robinson fumbled out of the back of the end zone after a 24-yard run to the Bills 1-yard line.
A solid early start turned shaky late in the first half for the Jaguars.
Each team turned an interception into points early, with Dan Carpenter's 42-yard field goal coming three plays after Aaron Williams intercepted Henne to end the Jaguars' first drive. Later in the quarter, Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes intercepted an errant pass by Manuel, returning it 28 yards to the Buffalo 39.
Scobee's 32-yard field goal tied it with 8:07 remaining in the first quarter.
The Jaguars then took a 10-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter, with rookie wide receiver Ace Sanders turning a swing pass from Henne into a 12-yard touchdown. That was Sanders' first career touchdown, but the Bills dominated the rest of the half.
Manuel threw seven yards to Robert Woods with 7:07 remaining in second quarter to make it 10-10, then Manuel's 7-yard keeper up the middle capped the ensuing possession to give Buffalo a 17-10 lead.
The Jaguars drove into Bills territory on their final drive, moving from their 10 to the Bills 38 before wide receiver Mike Brown fumbled there and cornerback Nickell Roby recovered. Officials reviewed the play for an extended period, but found no evidence to overturn.
Carpenter's 40-yard field goal on the final play of the half capped a 39-yard drive that consumed the final 26 seconds of the half and made it 20-10, Bills.
This came with the Jaguars in the red zone late in the game. The Jaguars had driven to the 1-yard line with an impressive drive, but a toss to Todman lost four yards and Henne's pass into the corner of the end zone was intercepted by Gilmore.
1.The Jaguars got good pressure early in the first half, with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and defensive end Andre Branch all registering sacks. For Branch, it was his fourth sack in the last five games.
2.Former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars at halftime. Brunell, who plaued for Jacksonville from 1995-2003, joined former teammates Tony Boselli and Fred Taylor and former Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Weaver.
LOOKING ON . . .
1.A major point of emphasis for Head Coach Gus Bradley hurt the Jaguars in a big way Sunday. Bradley has focused on not fumbling offensively, and the Jaguars hadn't lost one while going 4-1 after the bye. On Sunday, Brown lost one on a questionable call late in the half, then Robinson's fumble through the back of the end zone after reaching the 1-yard line cost the Jaguars a potential touchdown.
2.Manuel struggled a week ago, and his early struggles Sunday kept the Jaguars in it early. Manuel bounced an early pass on third down to set up a Bills field goal, then he threw inaccurately on a screen pass that Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes intercepted to set up the Jaguars' first field goal of the game. Manuel was intercepted four times a week ago in a loss at Tampa.
3.A huge reason or the Jaguars' post-bye improvement was an improved run defense. The Jaguars struggled there in a big way in the first half, particularly in the second quarter. The Bills finished the half with 140 yards rushing, including 102 in the second quarter. The Jaguars hadn't allowed an opponent 100 yards rushing in a game since the Week 9 bye. The Bills finished with 199 yards rushing.
Jaguars offensive guard Mike Brewster sustained an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. With guard Will Rackley missing the game with concussion symptoms, Jacques McClendon replaced Brewster.
Linebacker Geno Hayes sustained a knee injury in the first quarter and did return. He left later and returned again.
The Jaguars also were without Jones-Drew and wide receiver Cecil Shorts III. Shorts missed with a groin injury and Jones-Drew missed with a hamstring injury, while Rackley missed with a concussion and safety Johnathan Cyprien missed with a thigh injury.
Jordan Todman started for Jones-Drew and Kerry Taylor started for Shorts. Mike Brewster started for Rackley, with Winston Guy starting for Josh Evans and Chris Prosinski for Cyprien at safety.
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi, defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and tight end Allen Reisner also were inactive.