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Takeaways: Offensive line, penalties sink Buffalo Bills in embarrassing loss to Jaguars

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills have lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is not The Onion. Buffalo’s defense was up to the task, but the offense laid a spectacular egg against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Buffalo scored just six points and turned over the ball three times (could have been four) on their way to the worst offensive performance since last season.

Here are my takeaways from an abysmal game:

Offensive line struggles were expected, but not like this

The Bills’ offensive line was not good, but that was expected. They had Daryl Williams playing out of position at right tackle in place of Spencer Brown, Ike Boettger in for Jon Feliciano at left guard, and Cody Ford back in the lineup for Williams at right guard. While Ford was clearly a liability, it wasn’t just the replacement players playing poorly. Dion Dawkins was beat cleanly on Jags DE Josh Allen’s sack and allowed a big hit on the Bills’ Allen in the second half. Williams had the pièce de résistance when he was late getting off the snap on 3rd & 8 late in the fourth quarter. The sack by the Jaguars led to a near-fumble and a 4th & 16 play that ended the game.

Penalties play a huge role in outcome

This just in: The refs threw another flag on the Bills as they left the field and another after they were in the locker room. Oops, another flag while they were in the showers. 70 yards of penalties for Buffalo in the first half including FOUR personal foul calls. Levi Wallace had a taunting call after the Jaguars converted a fourth down in the red zone in the fourth quarter. (He was hit late by the Jaguars receiver, and he was caught retaliating.) The Bills finished with 12 penalties for 118 yards and some costly mistakes.

Josh Allen josh allened Josh Allen

Jaguars DE Josh Allen sacked Bills QB Josh Allen, the first time in NFL history that a player with the same name sacked his counterpart. The Jags’ DE also had an interception and a fumble recovery in the game. He was everywhere. For the Bills, Josh Allen converted two big third downs in the first half and another in the second, but he just wasn’t on the top of his game today. Sure you can blame the offensive line, but the fumble and at least one of the picks were on the QB. Our Jaguars blog unsurprisingly has an opinion:

More red zone shortcomings on offense

The Buffalo Bills drove to the red zone on their first drive, but once again came up short. After a pass got Buffalo inside the 5, they stalled. On 1st & Goal, Zack Moss was bottled up in the backfield. A horizontal pass to Cole Beasley gained nothing. On third down, Allen was flushed by a bad Cody Ford block and threw a tough incompletion. What was missing? Not once did they throw the ball past the goal line. Buffalo loses the ability to spread the field vertically in the condensed area, and then they take away the final ten yards of the field by never throwing it into the end zone. When the game is decided 6 to 9, a touchdown would have been pretty darn helpful.

Injury luck has run out

Heading into the game a couple weeks ago, Buffalo was incredibly clean on the injury sheet. But now, that is very much changed. In addition to the shuffle on the offensive line with injuries to Jon Feliciano (on IR) and Spencer Brown, the Bills lost CB Taron Johnson, RB Zack Moss, and CB Tre’Davious White to injuries during the game. Not to mention that TE Dawson Knox still hasn’t practiced after breaking his hand. Ed Oliver left the game and Cole Beasley and Jordan Poyer were on the injury report all week. Buffalo has already had their bye and this was supposed to be the easy part of their schedule.

Nipping at their heels

Instead of stacking wins, the Bills now have the New England Patriots nipping at their heels in the AFC East. New England is now just a half-game behind Buffalo. The Tennessee Titans and their win over the Bills are in a clear lead position thanks to their tiebreaking win over Buffalo, but now they’re up in the win column even if they lose to the red-hot Los Angeles Rams this weekend. It’s gut-check time in Buffalo.