The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, winning 25-20 in a game that saw both teams leave the field with identical 3-2 records. Potentially, this game could loom large later in the year should both teams fail to win their respective divisions — and it could determine playoff seeding even if they do, when considering a team’s overall conference record.
As for Sunday, though, the Jags saw their “Big 3” on offense do exactly what they wanted to do, for the most part: they ground out long drives, they wore down Buffalo’s injury-depleted defense, and they kept the Bills’ high-powered offense on the sideline. Here’s how our five Jaguars to watch fared on Sunday.
QB Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence made some big-time throws in this one, mostly when targeting wide receiver Calvin Ridley, but he also used slot wideout Christian Kirk to his advantage. Buffalo simply didn’t have any answer for those players, as Lawrence was 13-of-16 for an even 200 yards when targeting either of his top-two targets. Buffalo was able to put pressure on Lawrence even with an injury-depleted defensive line, as they sacked him five times and forced him into two red-zone fumbles, both of which were recovered by Buffalo to take points off the board. However, Lawrence made big throws when he needed, including a huge 32-yard pass on third down to Ridley when Buffalo sent a major blitz. That one set up what wound up being the game-winning touchdown. Lawrence finished his day 25-of-37 for 315 yards and a touchdown pass to Zay Jones.
RB Travis Etienne
The second Clemson product on our list was absolutely electric as the game wore on. Buffalo was able to bottle Etienne up fairly well for much of the game’s first 45 minutes, holding him to nine carries for 25 yards in the first half, and just 66 yards on 19 carries late into the fourth quarter. His last seven carries, though, went for a total of 70 yards, as Buffalo’s defensive attrition coupled with the obvious fatigue from playing so many snaps — and perhaps some jet lag — was too much to overcome. Etienne scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a six-yard run to put the Jags up 18-7 and another on a 35-yard run to put them up 25-13. He finished the day with 136 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, four receptions, and 48 receiving yards.
WR Calvin Ridley
Jacksonville’s top wideout was guarded by cornerback Kaiir Elam for much of the game, and the Jaguars definitely loved that matchup. Elam definitely looked like a guy who’s usually inactive on game day, and not like a former first-round draft choice, as they smoked him to the tune of six catches for 93 yards while he was the closest man in coverage. Much of that damage was done while he was guarding Ridley, who finished with seven grabs for 122 yards on the day. On one long drive in the fourth quarter, head coach Sean McDermott watched Ridley beat Elam in coverage, and then Dane Jackson, and then Micah Hyde. It didn’t matter who Buffalo put on him. They didn’t have an answer.
EDGE Josh Allen
The other Josh Allen wasn’t nearly as big a factor as he was the last time these two teams met. This time, Jacksonville’s Allen managed just one tackle. He didn’t sack Buffalo’s Josh Allen officially, because even though he did sack Allen, that sack was negated by a pretty questionable roughing the passer penalty. Sure, by the letter of the law it was a foul... but that was a pretty weak one that we’d be ticked off about had it been called on a Bills player. The offensive line was, again, quite good in pass protection for Buffalo’s offense. The same couldn’t be said for the run blocking, unfortunately.
CB Tyson Campbell
Here’s the good news for Campbell: He allowed just two catches for 29 yards on the day as the man across from cornerback Darious Williams, who had another interception in this one. The bad news is that both of Campbell’s catches allowed were touchdown grabs, as he was burned badly by wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the second quarter, and he was outmuscled by wide receiver Gabe Davis in the fourth quarter. On the latter score, Campbell committed pass interference, as well, but Davis managed to make the grab anyway. Campbell was sprinting back desperately on the 48-yard completion to Diggs, as well, but he wasn’t close enough to be considered close-by in coverage. Campbell finished with five tackles, one of which went for a loss.