On a day that the Buffalo Bills - coming off of a 46-point blowout loss just one week ago - weren't supposed to compete with the Jacksonville Jaguars, they did just that. Competed.
For three quarters.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Jaguars, however, who used the time frame to score 17 points and ice a 36-14 victory in Alltel Stadium. The Bills' second consecutive loss leaves the young ball club at 5-6 and two full games out of the AFC Wild Card Playoff race; with the playoffs very likely out of the equation, head coach Dick Jauron will have a lot of tough questions to answer this week.
Turnovers Costly in Loss
J.P. Losman, in his self-appointed "biggest game of his career", turned the ball over three times - one as the Bills were driving for a potential game-tying score in the fourth quarter - to mar what was otherwise a steady performance. Losman finished the game 27/40 for 211 yards, with a touchdown strike to Anthony Thomas, two interceptions and a fumble lost. His QB rating was 67.8; with the Bills out of the playoff chase, it is debatable whether or not Losman will be in next week's starting lineup as the team travels to Washington.
Minus Marshawn Lynch for a second consecutive week, the Bills saw solid production out of veteran Anthony Thomas, who compiled 91 yards to complement his touchdown. Reserve Fred Jackson - he of pre-season fame - also had an impact on the game, with 65 total yards himself. Buffalo's two runners combined for 13 receptions, which were not enough to offset the two that Lee Evans caught (both on the last drive of the game). It was also not enough to come close to controlling the tempo - something they needed to do.
Can't Stop Fred Taylor
Just like tempo, my other key to the game was Buffalo's ability to get off the field on third down. That didn't happen often, as the Jaguars converted 9 of 16 such downs (at one point, they were 8 of 10). Jacksonville was able to convert several third-and-longs as well, utilizing the talents of their big receivers to exploit Buffalo's zone coverages.
Fred Taylor proved too savvy for the Bills' defense to stop; the veteran finished with 104 yards on 14 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run to open the scoring. Maurice Jones-Drew, stymied for most of the day (10 carries, 10 yards), added a touchdown as well. David Garrard threw for 296 yards on 62% passing; his 59-yard strike to Reggie Williams for a score put the game on ice mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Free safety George Wilson had a tough game - he was mainly responsible for both of Jacksonville's long touchdowns, taking a bad angle on Taylor in the first quarter and following it with an over-run of Williams that gave him the necessary angle to house the clinching score. He was certainly not the only problem defensively, but it was probably his worst afternoon as a starter.
Rumblings Game Balls
WR Roscoe Parrish: Roscoe's 24-yard touchdown run on a reverse in the third quarter gave the Bills temporary life; he was the one non-running back who made a play nearly every time he touched the ball.
RB Fred Jackson: In his first extended NFL action, Jackson was fantastic, giving the Bills' offense some energy when it was struggling to find some. Even when Lynch returns, this guy should be more involved in the offense.
CB Jabari Greer: I feel bad for this kid, because he's a man corner playing zone. When he's able to play close to a receiver at the line, he's very difficult to beat.