ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The Jaguars were close. Again.
They did a lot of things right again, too – but doing a lot of good things and being close once again wasn't enough. The result was a 28-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field Sunday afternoon that left the Jaguars a very, very disappointing 2-9 after 11 games of the 2016 season.
The Jaguars easily could have won this game. A few … um, tough … calls didn't help. In fact, they hurt. A lot. But so did some missed opportunities in the first half and so did some huge defensive plays allowed in the second half. And yeah: special teams hurt … again.
So, here the Jaguars are: 2-9 with five games remaining. Sigh.
Let's get to it … Brett from Seattle, WA:
Gus Bradley lost the game this week. … Decision to re-punt. … Don't go for it on 4th-and-1 at the beginning of the fourth. Not calling a timeout before that delay of game. …
John: Nah. Bradley was trying to gain field position following a 16-yard punt return to the Bills 45 late in the first half. So, he opted to have Brad Nortman punt again. You're not supposed to follow up allowing a 16-yard return with a 43-yard return, but hey … the Jaguars did it. And not going for it on 4th-and-1 from the Jaguars 34? With eight and a half minutes remaining? Trailing by seven? That's fine, too. Coaches are going to get second-guessed and Bradley's record means he'll get questioned more than a coach who has won a bunch more games … but this one was about defensive big plays allowed more than in-game decisions.
Rob from Section114:
John: This was the much-anticipated, much-ballyhooed, oft-discussed First Email of the Game. It came right after the Jaguars' game-opening, 75-yard touchdown drive. When running back Chris Ivory scored on a two-yard run, it was the Jaguars' first touchdown on their first possession since Week 2 … so yeah, finally …
Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
O, it's just about kickoff and I just don't like the feeling for this one. The chill, the wind, Abry Jones out, both tight ends, too – and Sammy Watkins is in. I just can't help but feel this one could get ugly fast. Can Blake Bortles' shoulder hold out 60 minutes? My instincts say 'No'. Sigh. Game time … we are about to find out.
John: I also honestly thought this game had a real chance to get real one-sided in Buffalo's favor in a hurry, too. I said often during the week that I thought the matchup was as difficult for the Jaguars as any I could remember. For that reason, I thought the Jaguars' performance was one of their best performances in a loss this season. That's the comparatively positive thing from Sunday. The negative, of course, is that the Jaguars found a way to lose a sixth consecutive game – and a fourth consecutive game against a contending team in which they actually played well enough to win. Bortles talked after the game about a Murphy's-Law feeling around this team right now. You know what? That feeling's real. The last few weeks had defined the season – not in an awful, close-your-eyes way as much as a frustrating, what-might-have-been way. Either way, it's a 2-9 way – and 2-9 ain't good enough.
Bob from St. Augustine, FL:
O, I think the Bortles slide shows that his injury is a little more serious than we have been led to believe. Your thoughts?
John: You're referring to Bortles sliding after a 27-yard first-quarter run, but no ... I didn't see the slide being related to his shoulder injury as much as being smart. That's what you'd hope, anyway.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
The game is rigged, John. It's rigged against the Jaguars. I just wanted to make sure someone said this just in case they lose.
Jami from Wye Mills:
Horrible decision on the call to punt the ball again. We had two muffed punts. You just knew something was going to happen on special teams. Right on queue, a low punt, a big return, advantage lost. Thanks coach.
John: Gus Bradley's decision to re-punt following a Bills penalty on a late second-quarter punt drew a lot of ire. Frankly, I thought it was the right move. The Bills would have taken possession at their 45 if Bradley had declined a running-into-the-punter penalty. Taking the penalty gave the Jaguars five more yards and all the Jaguars needed was a decent punt and decent coverage. They haven't gotten the latter nearly enough later, but it's not wrong for Bradley to think the special teams won't allow a 43-yard punt return (INSERT JOKE HERE).
Alex from VA:
YANNICK IS A BEAST!
John: Yannick Ngakoue has six sacks this season. He's playing very, very well for a rookie and appears to have a real chance to be a very good pass rusher in this league. There are a lot of good things going on defensively. He's on the list.
Jeremy from Wise, VA:
Hello, touchdown, my old friend ...
John: The Jaguars needed one or two more again …