Sunday’s matchup in London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills started fast for the Jaguars, who quickly took a big lead thanks to big plays on defense by some of their future building blocks. A pick six by Telvin Smith and a fumble forced by Aaron Colvin that was returned for a touchdown quickly put the Jaguars up and in the driver’s seat to finally bury a team they were better than.
It didn’t quite play out like that, though, as we watched Toby Gerhart get stoned at the line of scrimmage four times in a row at the goal line when the Jaguars were trying to finish off the Bills in the first half. In a way, those four plays were kind of the Jaguars season in a nutshell. The goal line is right there, but you just can’t get it. You keep trying what’s not working and it just doesn’t work, surprisingly.
It was good for the Jaguars to get a win heading into the bye week and really it was something the fan base really needed. I couldn’t help but think about the game against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 when the Jaguars got out to a big lead quickly and early, then the bottom just fell out. During half time, that’s all I could think about and I hate the fact that it was a valid concern.
The Jaguars came out in the second half, as per usual, and were flat. They just couldn’t seem to get things going.
I’m not typically one to complain about play calling and Blake Bortles only threw the ball 29 times, but it felt like he had 70 attempts in the game. T.J. Yeldon wasn’t gashing the Bills, but he was getting chunks of yardage and seemed to fall forward nearly every time. If you’re going to come out and go three-and-out, at least burn clock while you’re doing it right? Bortles threw the ball 19 times in the second half.
A lot of that was because the team was trying to not blow the 24 point lead they established, and because of that they did blow it.
The defense that was terrorizing EJ Manuel with blitzes and stunts in the first half seemed to back off in the second half. Guys like Dwayne Gratz playing in place of Davon House got picked on in the passing game, giving up big plays. The Bills were able to march up and down the field and pick up points to climb back into it.
In a way, like the Toby goal line stand, this game captured the Jaguars so far this season. Flashes of brilliance, play making ability and then flashes of being over matched and looking unprepared. We’ll get into those issues at a later date because I don’t want to totally buzzkill a much needed win, but boy did the problem become magnified in the second half.
Ultimately the Jaguars won the game and that’s the goal. They had a lead in the fourth quarter, again, and blew that lead… again. This time however, they were able to charge back at the end with Bortles putting the team on his back (and a nice little pass interference call that wasn’t pass interference) and get the game-winning touchdown.
The Jaguars won and it's nice to have that going into the bye week. But there are still issues that need to be resolved if this team is going to turn a corner.