Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Jaguars 10, Bills 3


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Oehser …

1. The Jaguars won.That's simplistic, but simple works in this case. The Jaguars on Sunday beat the Bills, 10-3. Because quarterback Blake Bortles struggled throwing, and because the Jaguars never found a rhythm offensively, the game will be called ugly in some circles. None of those circles matter because the Jaguars will be one of eight NFL teams playing next weekend. The 11-6 Jaguars will play the 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC Divisional Playoff game in Pittsburgh and few prognosticators will prognosticate a Jaguars victory. But the Jaguars will enter the game with a defense good enough to win, and that will give them a chance. It's the same defense, remember, that intercepted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in a 30-9 Jaguars victory in Pittsburgh in Week 5. Analysts will call that game a fluke because the Jaguars didn't win pretty Sunday. But pretty doesn't matter in the playoffs and it didn't matter Sunday. What mattered is the Jaguars won.

2. Bortles did it somehow, some way.This wasn't the prettiest victory of Bortles' career, but it was the biggest. The Jaguars won despite Bortles passing for 87 yards because he ran effectively and came up big on the game's biggest drive: a 15-play, 86-yarder in the third quarter that gave the Jaguars a 10-3 lead. He threw for 29 yards and ran for 20 on the drive, capping it with a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Koyack on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Bortles for much of the game showed the accuracy issues that plagued him throughout 2016, also narrowly averting a second-quarter interception when rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook broke up the pass. But Bortles later also gave the Jaguars momentum on the half's final drive, running for 32 yards to set up a 44-yard field goal by Josh Lambo that made it 3-3 at halftime. He never found a rhythm passing, but his gutsy running and clutch passing in the third quarter made the difference. Somehow. Some way.

3. The defense came up big.This is a major understatement, but what shouldn't be overlooked about the Jaguars' victory Sunday is that was a big-time effort by a defense that has turned in such efforts all season. The Jaguars not only held the Bills to 263 total yards, they forced two turnovers and held Buffalo to a field goal on a second-quarter drive that reached first-and-goal at the Jaguars 1. The Jaguars never allowed the Bills closer than the Jaguars 38 the rest of the game, securing the victory with an athletic, logic-defying interception by Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. You got the feeling throughout the first and second quarters that if the Jaguars could just get a lead this defense wasn't going to let this team lose. That feeling proved accurate in a stifling second half few at EverBank Field will soon forget.

Sexton ...

  1. Blake Bortles didn't win any supporters from among those who didn't already believe in him on Sunday. He didn't look like Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady, he struggled with accuracy and appeared indecisive at times. However, he did win and that's what matters. His 88 rushing yards led the Jags and powered an offense that managed only 87 passing yards. They managed one drive and on fourth down and goal he managed one critical throw to Ben Koyak, which was all they needed. His teammates rallied behind him in the locker room and to a man they were appreciative of what he did do today; they weren't worried about what he didn't. They'll get the chance to play better next week in Pittsburgh and that's all that matters.
  1. The Bills had one good drive also but they finished with only a field goal, and truthfully that drive was the result of a questionable holding penalty on A.J. Bouye on third down on the Buffalo side of the field. Worth noting that after the offsides penalty on the first field goal attempt the Bills had first and goal from the one yard line, and with Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy on the field it ended with another field goal attempt. That was all they could muster today despite running 15 more plays and having the ball five minutes longer than the Jaguars. It never felt as if the Bills were going to be able to tie the game.
  1. Jalen Ramsey is the best cornerback in the NFL. He took away the best receiver on the field all day…and with the game on the line he made the kind of play that only an All Pro defensive back can possibly make. Look for more big plays from him next week against Ben Roethlisberger on an even bigger stage.
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