In a crucial game for the Buffalo Bills to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Bills took down the Jacksonville Jaguars in Buffalo. Coming into this one the Bills sat at 5-5, two games out from the last wildcard playoff spot while the Jaguars were 2-8 and simply playing to keep their jobs at this point. This game saw career milestones on each side as well Bills receiver Sammy Watkins in his return from the injured reserve after being out since week two.
In a game that would turn into an offensive struggle for each side, specifically in the first half saw the Jaguars drive down and score first. On an eleven play 75-yard drive that lasted just under seven minutes the Jaguars went up first thanks to one of Rex Ryans former Jets, Chris Ivory who picked up the score on a 2-yard run. The score was Ivory’s second of the season and he would go on to lead all Jaguars running backs in yards in this one.
The Bills offense however in the first half couldn’t find any success as they were forced to punt it away on their first four drives of the game. The first real sign of offense for the Bills would not revel itself until late in the second quarter. A big return by Brandon Tate, who has been dominant at times as a returner this season, going for 43-yards set the Bills up with prime field position for their first score of the game. An eventual LeSean McCoy 7-yard run in the dwindling seconds before the end of the half would cap off the drive for the Bills. Dan Carpenter, the reigning AFC special teams player of the week, however, would go on to follow a recent trend in the NFL of missing the point after leaving the Bills to go into the half down 7-6 to the Jaguars.
Right out of the gates in the second half the Bills came out storming. On their first play from scrimmage in the second half LeSean McCoy broke away for a 75-yard touchdown run, the longest of his career. This would only be the start of a big day for McCoy as he put up 103 yards and two scores in this one to help provide the offense for this unit. As dismal as the first half was offensively the second half started off with the two teams trading blows as the Jaguars were able to answer right back. Another long drive last over five minutes for the Jaguars resulting in a 20-yard Marquise Lee touchdown catch from Blake Bortles put the Jaguars back on top 14-13.
Perhaps one of the biggest offensive plays of the day for the Bills and their fans was seeing the return of number one wideout Sammy Watkins. Late in the third Watkins would haul in a 65-yard reception not only setting up the Bills for the go-ahead score but bringing a return to the deep ball for the Bills. Watkins would go on to hold on to every pass thrown his way, bringing in three passes for a total of 80-yards in his return from injury. Another off-injured Bill, Marcel Dareus also made his presence known in this one picking up two sacks in the win and showing truly how big of a disruptive force he can be when healthy and dedicated to his craft. However, as good as Dareus and the Bills were at getting to the quarterback, stopping the run what a whole different question in this one.
A Bills team that had given up 108-yards on the ground coming into this one ended up allowing a Jaguars team that has struggled all season long to run the ball to pick up 183-yards running the ball. In a career night for running the ball, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles led the way with his feet picking up 81-yards on the ground while showing off his athletic ability to move with his legs. Tyrod Taylor, a quarterback known for his mobility picked up his fifth rushing touchdown of the season late in the third, putting the Bills back on top. A score by Bortles once again in the third to Allen Hurns, however, would not be enough as the Bills would as they did throughout the game answer right back and make short work of the Jaguars. Marching down the field receiver Justin Hunter who was acquired midseason sealed in a tough catch for the Bills giving them all the points they would need in this one to hang on, 28-12.
Although not coming away with the victory, it was clear this Jaguars team came to play and was no easy test for the Bills. The return and improved play of Sammy Watkins and Marcel Dareus are positive signs moving forward for the Bills.
Following the victory, the Buffalo Bills moved to 6-5 and will travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders, a matchup that pits the Bills against one of the teams who can potentially be standing in their way of the playoffs. The Jaguars will fall to 2-9 and their losing streak will continue being pushed to six straight losses.
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