Buffalo Bills: Playoff magic runs out early as Bills fall to Jaguars
Buffalo Bills: Playoff magic runs out early as Bills fall to Jaguars
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12 January, 2018, 21:35
Yesterday's AFC Wild Card game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills was a snooze, but it was relevant to us in New England for two reasons: One, it would determine who would travel to Gillette next weekend to play the Patriots (turns out it's the Tennessee Titans), and two, Boston native and Berklee alum Susan Tedeschi sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the game at EverBank Field.
Buffalo - who suffered the longest barren spell without post-season action across all four major sports in the USA before this season - had not featured in the play-offs since losing 22-16 at this stage in 1999, and had not reached the Divisional Round since 1995. The Bills haven't been to the playoffs this century and it's been a decade for the Titans. They weren't even supposed to finish with a.500 record.
True enough. Twenty-four teams, to be exact. In its final three games, Buffalo scored one touchdown on eight trips inside an opponent's 20, including settling for a field goal despite six snaps from inside the Jacksonville 15 on Sunday. The Bills did everything they needed to do to win the contest, at least in the first half. What made it worse was the way Marrone told the players, which was sending them all a text.
Marcell Dareus had some extra motivation to play in his first career playoff game. They also prohibited Blake Bortles from accomplishing much of anything. "Over the course of the game they were able to play in the manner in which they like to play, grind the clock and maintain possession of the ball". But his work ethic was called into question the last couple of years, leading to his Bills departure.
Jacksonville entered the postseason allowing an NFL-low 169.9 yards per game through the air, 22.5 fewer than any other team.
Bortles threw for only 87 yards and ran for 88, a statistical reminder of his team's most serious flaw.
However, the Bills' loss can't be blamed on their defense. Buffalo had one sack and Jacksonville had two sacks.
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With only one touchdown and two field goals scored, it wasn't an exhilarating win by National Football League playoff standards. The kick came at the end of an 18-play, 71-yard drive that took 8:06.
There is no guarantee any of those quarterbacks will be better than Taylor, especially as rookies next season. Taylor often took too long to find open receivers, and he sometimes was not able to find anyone to pass to at all.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 17 of 37 attempts for only 129 yards with an interception before being knocked out with 1:17 remaining after a scramble.
Star man LeSean McCoy managed to beat an injury he picked up last week - he didn't practice this week - to start. He was once again held to under 100 yards, finishing the game with 21 carries for 57 yards, which was good for a lackluster average of 2.7 yards per carry.
Buffalo receiver Kelvin Benjamin was flagged for offensive pass interference in the end zone, which pushed his team back to the 11. "We got some chunk plays at times, but we couldn't convert on third down", center Eric Wood said.
It was a historic day for the Buffalo Bills and their fans.
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