The Jacksonville Jaguars almost let another fourth quarter lead slip through their fingers Sunday, before coming back to beat the Buffalo Bills in London, 34-31, in front of n front of 84,021 at Wembley Stadium.
Allen Hurns 31-yard touchdown catch with 2:16 remaining, helped the Jaguars snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. “I think (the win) is huge,” said Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. “It’ll definitely make the eight and a half hours back more fun.” The Buffalo Bills came very close to making the trip back to Jacksonville very miserable for the Jaguars. After being down 27-3 midway through the second quarter and 27-13 at the half, the Bills stormed back to score 18 points in the fourth quarter and take a 31-27 lead, before Hurns short-circuited the rally with his late game-winning grab.
Buffalo (3-4) took an early 3-0 lead only to see Bortles come back and find Allen Robinson on the end zone, to put the Jaguars up 7-3. From there, the Jaguars defense stepped up big time, against Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel. On third-and-9, Aaron Colvin forced a fumble from Manuel. Jacksonville defensive end Chris Clemons grabbed the loose ball and ran six yards, to up the Jaguars lead to 14-3. After a touchback, Manuel went back to throw and never saw Telvin Smith, who stepped in front of the defender and went 26 yards for the score. Just like that, the Jaguars were up 21-3, scoring twice in the span of seven seconds.
It didn’t take long for the Jags’ defense to get Manuel again. On the fourth play of the Bills ensuing drive, Paul Posluszny came up with another interception, setting the Jaguars up deep in Buffalo territory. A 28-yard run by rookie running back T.J. Yeldon, gave the Jaguars a 27-3 lead. Yeldon had a great day on the ground, rushing for 115 yards on 20 carries. Not bad for a guy who, at midweek, didn’t look like he was going to play, due to a groin issue. Kicker Jason Myers struggles with the extra point continued, following the Yeldon touchdown, as he missed wide. It was his third extra point missed in seven games.
To his credit, Manuel did not hang his head, he got his team points before the half and the Bills had the momentum going into the locker room, despite trailing 27-13. Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Bills came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth. Dan Carpenter kicked his third field goal of the day to get them started and then Manuel found Marcus Easley on a 58- yard touchdown pass. With LeSean McCoy converting the two-point conversion, the Bills were within three at 27-24, with 6:33 to go.
The Jaguars got the ball back and were definitely against the ropes. Bortles dropped back to pass on a third-and-11 and threw the ball up, under pressure. It dropped into the arms of Corey Graham, who dodged tacklers and went in for the score, completing a 44-yard pick six and giving Buffalo their first lead since the first quarter, 31-27. This was especially frustrating, since the Jaguars had a golden opportunity in the third quarter, only to have the drive stall at the Bills’ one yard line, after four successive runs by Toby Gerhart. Yeldon, who had the earlier Jaguars touchdown, was on the bench and did not get the call from the one yard line.
Despite blowing another fourth quarter lead, their fourth of the season and despite making the same old mistakes with dropped passes and penalties, Jacksonville had one more chance and they forged ahead. “It’s not a situation where you wanna be tight,” Bortles said of the last drive. “You wanna be free, you wanna be loose and you wanna be calm. As the quarterback, you’re kinda that thermostat, setting the mood. I thought they did an unbelievable job, I thought the mood in the huddle was good and obviously, we executed it.”
Hurns made a heck of a catch on that last drive, laying out and making a diving catch. Hurns ended up with two catches on the day, for 52 yards and the game-winning score. Bortles, who has had some big passing days in recent weeks was not overly impressive Sunday, completing 13-of-29 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley was thankful for the win, but knows that the team has to play better, going forward. “In all three phases, there’s work to be done, but all three phases came through for us in some way, or some fashion,” he said. “To get the win is obviously what we’re all after, it’s a results driven league.”
With the win, the Jaguars improved to 2-5 with the win and they will now enjoy a bye week, before heading to New Jersey to take on the Jets on November 8. That game is set for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.