LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 25-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a 2023 Week 5 game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London Sunday.
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…
- This was big. Really big. The Jaguars will bemoan missed opportunities Sunday – particularly after leading by just four points after dominating the first half. But you know what? Sunday was no time for bemoaning. Winning matters, and the Jaguars on Sunday beat a team many believed as good as any in the NFL through the season's first month. The Jaguars entered their back-to-back London games feeling less-than great about a 1-2 start after a twenty-point loss to the previously winless Houston Texans. They leave it on a two-game winning streak with a victory over a team that entered Sunday's game having won their past three games by a total of 90 points. So, Sunday wasn't always pretty? So what? This was about guts, desire, toughness and finding a way. This was about the defense playing at a championship level for a half and the offense putting together two clutch drives to clinch the game late. This was about star players making star-player plays. It was about beating a Super Bowl contender. "We were just going to have to sustain," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "Everybody had a hand in it. Very pleased, very proud of our guys." The Jaguars are heading home 3-2 assured of at least a tie for first place in the AFC South. Who wouldn't have taken that two weeks ago? No one around the Jaguars.
- Ridley's big-time – and the Jaguars' defense may be, too. Credit to running back Travis Etienne Jr. for perseverance Sunday and credit to the Jaguars' coaches for sticking with the run. But two storylines stood out beyond Etienne's 136 yards rushing with two touchdowns and 48 more yards receiving. One was the performance of wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who caught seven passes for 122 yards and whose 32-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 from the Jaguars 31 in the fourth quarter kept alive a critical drive that led to Etienne's 35-yard touchdown run that gave the Jaguars a 25-13 lead. Ridley was acquired to be elite and he made a difference Sunday. But the story of this game from this view was a Jaguars defense that held the Bills to one touchdown in the game's first 55 minutes. The game got haywire after that, but the Bills entered the game as perhaps the NFL's best offense. They had beaten their last three opponents by an average of 30 points. To hold them to 20 with 14 coming in the chaotic final minutes was a big-time effort from a unit that has played winning defense far more often than not this season. "The defense stepped up big all day," Pederson said.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …
- What a throw! Quarterback Trevor Lawrence's 32-yard completion to Ridley in the fourth quarter couldn't have been bigger. Not only did it put the Jaguars in a position to extend their lead, it was on the first play with Blake Hance at left tackle for an injured Cam Robinson – and the Bills brought everything they had at the quarterback. He lofted it up, trusting that Ridley would find it. The ubersmooth Ridley worked his way into position and made the grab. That play and Lawrence’s early 4th-and-1 completion to wide receiver Christian Kirk against Atlanta that sparked the offense at Wembley were – to me – two of the biggest plays of the London trip.
- This game should have been over before Bills quarterback Josh Allen's touchdown run. The Jaguars turned the ball over at the Bills 12-yard line at the end of the first half and the Bills 24-yard line early in the fourth quarter. They should at least have added two field goals and have had a 31-20 lead with 2:11 remaining instead of 25-20. But Lawrence was sacked twice and fumbled twice. You usually can't beat the NFL's best teams coming up empty in scoring position. As it was, they found a way with a couple of big plays down the stretch from Lawrence, Ridley and Etienne but it should have been over earlier.
- Darious Williams wore a target all day long. But the Jaguars' cornerback made two huge plays that gave the Jaguars a chance to win. His interception where he took the ball away from Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs was a beautiful effort and led to a Jaguars touchdown drive that put them back up by 11 points. Then on the ensuing drive by the Bills, after Josh Allen's touchdown pass to wide receiver Gabe Davis, Williams made a massive play on wide receiver Khalil Shakir on the two-point try that kept the Jaguars' lead above three points. He struggled in coverage; he couldn't defend Davis on the fourth-quarter touchdowns, but he deserves credit for coming through when his team needed it the most.
Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...
- Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Williams was responsible for some of the biggest moments of the game in all respects. The Bills seemed to be purposefully throwing in his direction and the veteran cornerback was late on plays and tackling poorly at times. However, Williams came up huge with his second interception in as many games in London in the fourth quarter. Williams wrestled the ball away from Diggs to make the play. Williams also stopped a Buffalo two-point conversion attempt to keep the Jaguars lead at five points. Those big plays covered up the previous mistakes. The defense remains the backbone of the team this season.
- QB1 growing up before our eyes. Lawrence turned 24-years-old on Friday and played one of the best games of his career on Sunday. Throwing for 325 yards and one touchdown, Lawrence was even more impressive outside of the box score. He stayed composed under serious pressure and took more than his fair share of hits. The connection with Ridley is proving its worth, as Lawrence went to his newest wide receiver on several critical third downs. Now, it's time to continue the progress next week at home.
Check out in game photos of the Jaguars Week 5 matchup against the Buffalo Bills at the one of a kind Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ➡️