ORCHARD PARK. N.Y. – Leonard Fournette apologized immediately.
Fournette, the Jaguars' running back, on Sunday was ejected for his role in a multiplayer fight near the end of the third quarter of a 24-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field in Buffalo. Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson also was ejected.
"You can't have that," said Fournette, who rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries before the ejection. "I apologize to all those kids out there who look up to me – and all of our fans."
Fournette called the loss "totally on me."
"I take full responsibility," he said.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said he spoke to Fournette immediately following the ejection.
"He came over to the sideline," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. "Obviously, I talked to him. He's a captain. He can't do that. Obviously, that's something that hurts our team: we lose probably our best offensive player who was playing obviously at a very high level."
Marrone said while he didn't know if the sequence "deflated" the Jaguars, "I know we lost a heck of a player and a guy who was playing extremely well – and a guy we rely on quite a bit."
The fight that led to Fournette's ejection came following a 29-yard pass from Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to wide receiver Donte Moncrief to the Bills 1-yard line. Fournette said his actions weren't out of frustration rather that it was a "protective move." He said he left the sidelines to help Jaguars running back Carlos Hyde, who he said was getting hit in the back of the head.
"That's my brother," Fournette said of Hyde. "I don't know how you all was raised, but that's just me."
A Bills fans appeared to reach from the stands and contact Fournette as he was escorted from the playing field.
"My biggest thing was when the fan hit me," Fournette said. "I got a problem with that, but other than that I've just got to move on from it. This loss is 100 percent on me. It's tough to handle right now, but you've got to move on."
Fournette said he "most definitely" regretted his actions.
"We should have won this game, hands down," he said. "I take full responsibility."
The Jaguars had a touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook nullified by a holding penalty on wide receiver Keelan Cole immediately following Fournette's ejection, with the possession ending when Josh Lambo missed a 42-yard field goal. The Bills drove 68 yards assisted by 15-yard penalties on defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and safety Barry Church, with Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen's 14-yard touchdown run giving the Bills a 21-14 lead.
"It's a momentum-based game, and they got the momentum in that situation," Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. "This game is capitalizing on opportunities, and we didn't do that. We didn't score, and we gave up points. That's as tough as it gets."
Bortles completed 12 of 23 passes for 127 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He completed five of eight passes for 31 first-half yards and a pass thrown behind Cole led to an interception late in the first half that caromed from Cole's hands to Bills linebacker Matt Milano. That interception ended a scoring opportunity that could have given the Jaguars a halftime lead. Bortles had 48 of his passing yards on the Jaguars' final drive, which ended with a 13-yard touchdown from Bortles to Westbrook to make it 24-21 with 1:20 remaining. Marrone said afterward he did not consider replacing Bortles with backup Cody Kessler.
Allen threw a touchdown and ran for another in his sixth NFL start Sunday – and while he completed just 8 of 19 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown, the Jaguars forced the rookie No. 7 overall selection into no takeaways. Allen was particularly effective running, finishing with 99 yards on 13 carries. He had 101 yards rushing on 11 carries before kneeling twice at game's end. Allen's 75-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Robert Foster gave the Bills a 14-0 first-half lead, and his 14-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter gave the Bills a 21-14 lead they never relinquished. "He did enough to get their team the win," said Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had been critical publicly of Allen before the season. "I know he ran the ball really well. He hurt us with his feet. He had one deep one (pass) on us that hurt us … other than that, he was causing damage with his feet." Linebacker Myles Jack called Allen "very good at running … very fast. He's a fast runner. Passing? He definitely hit some big passes and hit some throws, but he really killed us with the legs today."
Campbell: "I've lost a lot of games before. I think I lost nine in a row one time. Any time you lose that many games in a row in this business – because the margin for error is so close – it's surprising and it's tough. But this team I feel like is much better than that team. It hurts that much more. We have to wear it. This is what we deserve. This is what we've executed to get. We have to keep fighting, playing for pride, playing for the love of the game, playing to make it respectable."