JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 34-31 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Wembley Stadium in London, England, Sunday …
1.The Jaguars can finish.OK, so maybe it didn't seem that way through most of a maddening, gotta-be-kidding fourth quarter. And it sure didn't look that way after Blake Bortles threw a Pick Six with under six minutes remaining, but then Bortles turned it around because …
2.Bortles can handle pressure.We've seen this a lot in his 20 starts, but we saw it again Sunday. Bortles had a very real chance to fold. The late-game 44-yard interception return by Bills safety Corey Graham had the feel of a defining moment for a team falling apart. Then, the Jaguars moved 84 yards in seven plays on the ensuing drive and Bortles completed big pass after big pass. Then, he threw 31 yards for a touchdown to Allen Hurns. He isn't a perfect quarterback yet, but he is cool under pressure.
3.Bortles is improving in the pocket.He always been good at this, but Bortles moved well, evaded pressure and kept plays alive pretty routinely Sunday. That continues to be a good sign and an area of growth.
4.The Jaguars can win in Wembley.Sunday's game snapped a two-game Wembley losing streak, and at various times Sunday you could hear and feel the crowd behind the Jaguars. London is always a cool trip. It's always striking to see the level of interest in the Jaguars overseas. Winning makes it a little cooler.
5.Turnovers are cool – and very important.The Jaguars had three takeaways through six games. That's not a good total. They had four on Sunday. That's a really good total considering three came on the first three Bills drives of the second quarter – and all led directly to touchdowns.
6.Defensive touchdowns are even cooler than just, plain turnovers.The Jaguars got defensive touchdowns on back-to-back second-quarter plays. The first, a six-yard fumble return by defensive end Chris Clemons, pushed the Jaguars' lead to 14-3. The second, a 26-yard interception return by linebacker Telvin Smith, pushed the lead to 21-3. Those are the kind of quick-strike, momentum-changing plays that win games.
7.Allen Hurns is clutch.Remember last season? And the preseason? When Hurns struggled with drops enough that some fans wondered if he ought to be released? (This is true, really). Hurns, like any receiver, will have his share of drops, but he has been more reliable this season -- and as far as his 31-yard, go-ahead reception … in terms of awareness body control, it doesn't get much better.
8.Jason Myers' struggles continue to be real.Myers has missed six kicks in seven games, with three of the misses extra points. His two extra points in the last two games weren't costly, but Sunday's could have hurt had the Bills driven for a field goal following Hurns' touchdown.
Images of the Jaguars Week 7 matchup against the Buffalo Bills at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
9.Allen Robinson is big-time.Robinson showed flashes last season as a rookie, then returned this season vowing to be more aggressive and win more 50-50 balls. Mission accomplished, and Robinson also is emerging as a go-to receiver. He had six receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown and his two long receptions down the left sideline started the Jaguars' game-winning drive.
10.The short-yardage offense needs work.Had the Jaguars lost, the inability to score on four consecutive runs by Toby Gerhart from the Bills 1-yard line would have been a major storyline. Actually, it was a major storyline even with the victory, and the failure of a fullback dive on third-and-1 to Tyson Alualu was equally telling. The interior's not getting push. At least not enough.
11.T.J. Yeldon is making strides. Even with the short-yardage struggles, this isn't a day to completely write off the run-blocking or the running game. A week after getting little from the backs in a loss to the Texans, the Jaguars got a season-high 115 yards and a 28-yard touchdown from Yeldon. In his first game back after missing the Houston game with a groin injury, Yeldon looked more confident and quick to the hole than he had in any of the first five games of the season. Those are good signs from a good, young back.
12.The core may be coming together.Speaking of good signs, consider the vast majority of the playmakers Sunday: Aaron Colvin, Robinson, Hurns, Smith, Bortles, Yeldon – five second-year players and a rookie. The kids may be starting to grow up.
13.Telvin Smith is special.It's great to lump Smith in with the other second-year guys, but time should be taken to point out the stat line: a team-leading nine tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, three passes defensed, an interception return for a touchdown, a near-touchdown saving interception in the end zone. What more do you want from the guy?
14.Winning feels good?Doesn't it?