With two quarters elapsed at EverBank Field, the Buffalo Bills are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars 3-3. The game was billed as a battle between two opportunistic defenses and two average, run-heavy offenses, and it’s delivered on that promise. Only two drives in the first half ended with points. The Bills ended one drive with a turnover, and the teams combined for nine punts.
Both teams traded punts for the entirety of the first quarter. The Bills came closest to scoring position, with an eleven play drive that started at the 5 yard line and reached midfield, but the Jaguars were ready for Buffalo’s bootleg runs and forced a throwaway on third and short.
In a game between two teams with a strong defensive identity, the game could hinge on the short fields generated by turnovers. The Jaguars defense came up with the first results early in the second quarter. Tyrod Taylor tried hitting Logan Thomas over the middle, but Myles Jack tipped the pass into the air, and Jaguars cornerback Aaron Colvin came down with it. The Jaguars had the ball in Buffalo territory for the first time in the game, but Buffalo’s defense had an impressive answer. They forced a three and out, and Doug Marrone opted to punt instead of attempting a 56 yard field goal, keeping the game scoreless.
On the following possession, aided by a few timely penalties, the Bills stretched out a textbook drive across the field. They came as close as the one yard line, but a Kelvin Benjamin offensive pass interference penalty brought the offense back ten yards. The Bills would ultimately settle with a field goal, unable to punch it in from further out, but the drive lasted over eight minutes.
Jacksonville had three timeouts and two minutes to work with following that score, but Buffalo’s defense clamped down one more time, and Tre’davious White nearly came up with an interception before the ball was knocked out of his hands by Dede Westbrook. After a great Jaguars punt and a Bills penalty, Buffalo’s offense was (once again) pinned deep in their own territory. The Bills played that drive aggressively, passing to try and lock down the first half with a first down, but Deonte Thompson dropped a pass, stopping the clock, and the Bills weren’t able to reach ten yards gained.
The Jaguars took over near midfield, and their offense finally woke up with some desperation plays. Blake Bortles scrambled successively for 36 yards, and the Jaguars finished with just enough time to kick a game-tying 44 yard field goal.
The Jaguars won the coin toss and deferred at the start of the match, so they’ll receive the kickoff in the second half. Buffalo’s mission: Retake the lead and keep tightening the screws on defense. If they’re successful, they’ll come away with their first playoff win in more than two decades. We’re talking about the remainder of the game in here. Go Bills!