JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The upside was this: The Bills made the playoffs, ending their embarrassing 17-year drought, so there’s no way anyone can say 2017 was a disappointing season, especially those who thought back in August the franchise was tanking. However, when you lose a playoff game as Buffalo did Sunday afternoon, and you lose it to a quarterback as inept as Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, sure, you’re allowed to be a little aggravated.
In a game that redefined pathetic offense, with both teams contributing to the cause, the Jaguars were just a little less awful and escaped with 10-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd — now there’s something you don’t read very often — at EverBank Field.
For the sake of NFL fans, let’s hope that’s the worst game of the postseason because forcing anyone to watch another one like this would be cruel and inhuman. The Bills and Jaguars finally made it to the national stage — Jacksonville hadn’t played a postseason game since 2007 — and this was what they offered up?
This was Buffalo’s well-documented first playoff game since 1999, but thanks to yet another miserable performance by one of the league’s worst offenses, another drought remains active — Buffalo hasn’t won a postseason game since 1995 and has now lost its last four.
It was clear early on that neither of the quarterbacks — Tyrod Taylor and Bortles — were going to be doing much of anything. Taylor was his typically inconsistent self as a passer, and he got almost no help from his teammates as gimpy-ankled LeSean McCoy was the only threat the Bills had. And Bortles was just, well, Bortles. He actually rushed for more yards (88) than he passed for (87). He has better players around him, but all he could manage was one touchdown drive, and it just so happened that it was all he needed.
The first six possessions of the game ended in punts before Taylor threw an interception in the second quarter, a ball that went right through tight end Logan Thomas’ arms and into the hands of Aaron Colvin at the Bills' 35. Not that it mattered because the Jaguars went backwards three yards, and Doug Marrone punted from the 38. Naturally.
The Bills finally put together an impressive drive, but it ended with a loud, irritating thud. Starting from their own 16, they converted three straight third downs, got some help from two key Jacksonville penalties, and then it all started to go haywire as offensive coordinator Rick Dennison lost his mind. Buffalo failed to convert on second-and-2 and then third-and-2 from the 4, and Sean McDermott called for a field goal. The Jaguars, however, foolishly jumped offsides so Buffalo had first-and-goal at the 1.
On first down, Dennison called for a fade pass to Kelvin Benjamin, and Benjamin was nailed for pass interference. You can guess the rest. The Bills did not get the touchdown, and settled for a Stephen Hauschka field goal with 1:49 to go in the half.
Jacksonville did nothing and had to punt, but it had all three of its timeouts. So what did the Bills do? Zip, and not only that, the Jaguars had to use only one of their timeouts. So, when Colton Schmidt shanked a 34-yard punt, Jacksonville was able to move into position for a 44-yard Josh Lambo field goal to tie the score.
After an exchange of third-quarter punts, Jacksonville put together it’s only big drive of the day, the one that won the game. It was a 15-play, 86-yard march that ended with Bortles throwing a 1-yard touchdown pass to someone named Ben Koyack on fourth-and-goal, a rare risky maneuver by Marrone who bypassed a go-ahead field goal. From there, the Jaguars defense slammed the door as the Bills crossed midfield only twice in the second half for a total of six snaps.
Buffalo had one last opportunity to tie, taking possession at its own 37 with two minutes to go and no timeouts. Taylor was hurt while scrambling on third down when his head was slammed to the turf, delaying the game for several minutes.
Rookie Nathan Peterman entered facing a fourth-and-3 from the 44 with 1:17 to go and he scrambled for a first down to the Bills' 48 and completed a pass to Deonte Thompson for 14 yards, then melted down as he took an intentional grounding penalty before throwing a game-ending interception to Jalen Ramsey.
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