ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Jaguars' 28-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday – with an eye on two game-changing explosive plays by the Buffalo offense in the second half
A FEW THAT MATTERED
Gus Bradley summed up Sunday in a few words.
"I thought our defense played really well – just gave up a few explosive plays," the Jaguars' head coach said following Sunday's loss at Buffalo.
He couldn't have been more right.
At the same time, those explosive plays hardly could have been more costly – and they turned what had potential for a memorably stifling defensive effort into the Jaguars' sixth consecutive loss.
"You looked at the first half and said, 'That's what we're capable of,''' middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "They [the Bills] come out and hit two big ones. … Those changed the outcome of the game."
The Jaguars held the Bills to 63 first-half yards, including 25 rushing. The Bills' lone touchdown of the first half came on a 22-yard drive that followed a 43-yard punt return by Bills wide receiver Brandon Tate.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy then opened the second half with a 75-yard touchdown run. He scored untouched after juking safety Tashaun Gipson in the hole with cornerback Jalen Ramsey holding contain on the edge and also barely missing McCoy.
The Bills went three and out on the ensuing series, then Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins beat cornerback Jalen Ramsey for a 62-yard gain down the sideline late in the third quarter. Taylor scrambled for a seven-yard touchdown four plays later.
"As a defense, we did what we needed to do [in the first half]," Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. "In the second half, we didn't do that."
McCoy's run and Watkins' reception accounted for 137 of Buffalo's 304 total yards.
"They made some plays," Bradley said. "It's unfortunate, because I thought that we played pretty well. We came in thinking we had to tackle very well and we just gave up two too many plays."
NO FLAG ZONE
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles was particularly upset following the game about a 3rd-and-4 play from the Bills 40 with 3:38 remaining. Bortles threw to wide receiver Allen Robinson on the play. Replays showed Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore pulling Robinson away from the ball using Robinson's jersey. "The one on A-Rob was brutal," Bortles said. "I don't know how that wasn't called. Do you get fined for saying that? I might as well just keep talking. That was horrible."
"WE FELT LIKE WE COULD GET IT OFF"
The moments immediately after the uncalled interference penalty against Robinson may have been just as critical. Facing 4th-and-4, Bortles failed to get the snap off. That made it 4th-and-9. Bortles threw to Lee on the ensuing play and Lee was stopped for a three-yard gain to give Buffalo possession. "We felt like we could get it off," Bradley said of opting against calling timeout before the delay penalty. "We had some close calls at the end with that and we got them off. We just didn't get it off that time."
RUN, BLAKE, RUN
Bortles had his most productive running game of the season Sunday, leading the Jaguars with 81 yards rushing on eight carries. His 27-yard run on 3rd-and-6 from the Bills 49 set up the Jaguars' first touchdown and his 15-yard run on a read-option play moved the Jaguars to the Bills 46 on their final drive. "It was kind of just taking advantage of what they did," Bortles said. "It's part of the work with [offensive coordinator] Nathaniel [Hackett]. We're four weeks into it with [Hackett as coordinator]. Knowing the progression on each play, he's very adamant with, 'If it's not there, take off and run.'''
"I don't question their [the Jaguars'] focus. I don't question their effort, how they came out and played. They [the Bills] just made a few more plays than we did."
"That's [six] games this season where we've been in it in the fourth quarter and didn't pull it out. That's tough. We have to get that mental toughness to withstand the long fight. When you're in those situations, you bear down, you bite your teeth and you go at it. That's the mentality we have to get and we're still learning."
"We have to continue to fight regardless of our record. We have to do everything we can to win because two wins is obviously not where any of us want to be – and it's not where we should be. We need to continue to work as hard as we can to fix that with the time we have left."
"They [the Bills] hit us where it hurt. I tip my hat [to the Jaguars'] offense because they answered every time. We [the defense] just didn't answer the bell today.''
--Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson