The Buffalo Bills had all the looks of a team that was ready to break into the win column on Sunday. They forced a couple of early turnovers. Their running game looked revitalized. Lee Evans got involved in the deep passing game. The defense made a couple of stops on third down. The Bills however, fell into old habits, and got outmuscled by the Jaguars the entire second half in a 36-26 loss.
The Bills’ quick start was ultimately tempered by having two drives stall out, due to penalties, and result in field goals. The Bills had everything going their way and only managed to build a 13-3 lead. The Jaguars buckled down after that, and went on, to borrow a basketball expression, a 33-7 run in the middle of the game, pushing their lead to 36-20. A late Bills score seemed to give the team a chance to attempt to come back, but a 2-point conversion pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage, dashing any thoughts the Bills had of trying to force overtime.
After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Bills punted away. However, Jacksonville’s punt returner Mike Thomas, who otherwise had a great day, fumbled, setting the Bills up to throw a 45-yard touchdown pass immediately after. Andra Davis also intercepted a tipped pass for the Bills, but that resulted in just a field goal. Lindell field goals of 22 and 29 yards tell the tale that the Bills were unable to capitalize in the red zone when it mattered.
Fred Jackson helped give the Bills their fast start on Sunday, gaining 73 yards on just 12 carries. Jackson made tacklers missed and found even the slimmest of holes to maximize every opportunity he had. However, penalties and obvious playcalling resulting in a lack of opportunities in the running game. The Bills predictably ran out of their fullback formations on first downs, allowing Jacksonville to stack the box and put the Bills in second-and-long situations.
The Bills’ defense once again failed to stop the opposition. Determined to try something to stop the run, the Bills inserted rookie NT Torrell Troup into the game, sliding Kyle Williams over to defensive end. While this slowed a couple of runs early, it ultimately became an inconsequential decision as Jacksonville pounded the Bills for three quarters. Jacksonville rushers carried 40 times for 216 yards. Outside of Andra Davis, the Bills’ defense continued to be overmatched. Paul Posluszny had a particularly difficult game, trailing behind tight ends and wide receivers in the passing game, and getting pushed around by Jaguar lineman and fullbacks in the run game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 20/30 for 220 yards and 3 tds were particularly misleading in the box score. Fitzpatrick was able to take advantage of soft zones late in the game to pad his statistics, but his inability to be a consistently accurate thrower did not allow the Bills to overcome penalties and long yardage situations. There were consecutive passes to the flat that Fitzpatrick sailed 10 yards over the receiver’s head, then bounced backwards before Roscoe Parrish scooped it up and dove forward for a few yards.
Even the usually reliable special teams is starting to show warts as C.J. Spiller is having difficulty finding seems against directional kicks to the corner of the end zone, and the kickoff coverage unit fell apart in the third quarter. With the game tied 13-13 to start the quarter, the Jaguars returned the opening kickoff 51 yards to start comfortably in Bills’ territory. While it didn’t appear the Bills would have been able to stop Jacksonville from any distance in the second half, they had their backs against the wall and couldn’t recover.
The Bills head into the bye week at 0-5. For the gamblers winning money betting against the Bills, we’ll have to wait until later this week to see how many points the Bills are getting against the bye week before you place your bets.