They are 1-0 for the first time in three years, following a road win that is their first since Tom Coughlin was the team's head coach. The Jaguars are at their highest state since they were 3-1 in 2002 and they'll open their home season this Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
All of that is the result of a 13-10 win over the Buffalo Bills Sunday, in a thrill-packed season-opener that wasn't decided until Byron Leftwich completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Ernest Wilford on the final play of the game.
That pass capped a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that began with 2:07 left to play. In the drive, Leftwich completed a 45-yard, fourth-and-14 pass to wide receiver Jimmy Smith, and a fourth-and-two pass to wide receiver Troy Edwards at the Bills' seven-yard line.
"He showed poise," Smith said of Leftwich, who other than for the final drive of the game experienced a rather dismal afternoon. His 18 of 36 for 147 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a 46.9 passer rating would've been a whole lot worse had it not been for that final drive.
"This is huge for us," Smith added. "It didn't seem like we had much of a chance. Byron threw the ball up there and I knew I had to go up and get it," Smith said of the fourth-and-14 pass, a rainbow of a heave that Smith took off the top of cornerback Nate Clements' head.
Ultimately, it came down to one play, and Leftwich went to the most unlikely of receivers, a rookie who would be making his first pro catch. Wilford was head and shoulders above everyone when he caught the pass, and it was ruled a touchdown when it was decided he was pushed out of bounds by the defenders. Replay upheld the ruling that Wilford did not lose control of the ball.
"I feel like no one can out-jump me," Wilford said.
Until then, the Jaguars had sputtered throughout the day. In fact, both of Buffalo's scores were the result of having intercepted Leftwich, and Buffalo appeared to have control of the game following an interception and subsequent 33-yard return by safety Izell Reese in the fourth quarter.
Reese's interception of a Leftwich pass intended for Smith led to a 25-yard field goal by Rian Lindell with 10:15 to play in the game. It was an interception by Clements in the first quarter that led to the Bills' only touchdown of the game, a 17-yard pass from Drew Bledsoe to wide receiver Eric Moulds.
The Jaguars defense made several big plays but the offense struggled to convert them into points. A big play by cornerback Juran Bolden had the Jaguars within a point after three quarters, following a 27-yard field goal by Josh Scobee.
Buffalo appeared to be driving toward a score midway through the third quarter when quarterback Bledsoe threw a lateral pass for Moulds. Bolden and the ball reached Moulds simultaneously, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by safety Donovin Darius at the 50-yard line.
The Jaguars offense came to life late in the first half, in a 12-play, 54-yard drive that culminated in a 25-yard field goal by Scobee with 17 seconds left to play. Scobee's kick cut the Bills' lead to 7-3 heading into halftime.
Buffalo squandered several scoring opportunities and Lindell missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in the first half.
"Everybody was fired up. When he caught that, I said, 'All right, this is a special drive here,'" offensive tackle Maurice Williams said of Smith's fourth-down catch.
Del Rio also praised Scobee, a rookie in his first regular season game.
"We brought a rookie kicker up here. He made his field goals and kicked his kickoffs in the end zone," Del Rio said.
The win left the Jaguars tied with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South. Houston and Indianapolis are each 0-1.