The Buffalo Bills played in their first playoff game this century against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but failed on a comeback drive that led to the Jags winning 10-3. In a defensive game, both offenses’ struggled without question but the Jaguars were the only ones’ to score a touchdown late in third quarter. The Jaguars will face the Pittsburgh Steelers next week in a rematch from Week 5 while the Bills now focus on ways to improve from this past year through free agency and the draft.
The Jaguars were a clear favorite in this game, but the Bills defense performed very well. A big factor that hurt the Bills defense was Blake Bortles running for 88 yards that included two big runs to keep the ball away from Tyrod Taylor and his offense. Bortles was the game’s leading rusher, rushing for more yards than Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy.
The Bills offense looked plain out pathetic this game. One of the biggest disappointments to take away from the game was their 18-play drive that ended up in only 3 points. The Bills drove down the field, then were stopped on fourth down in field goal range. The Bills were able to make the Jaguars cause a penalty that put the Bills in great scoring position on first down. Taylor threw a pass to Kelvin Benjamin that fell incomplete and Benjamin was called for pass interference. The offense was pushed back and could not reach the end zone. Stephen Hauschka got the Bills on the score board for their only points of the game.
On the last drive, the Bills were driving then Taylor got rocked by Dante Fowler Jr. and slammed his head on the field, taking him out of the game. Taylor stayed down and at one point was not moving. This caused Peterman to step in and lead a possible comeback. Peterman picked up a clutch first down to keep the drive going but the hopes of winning crashed when Jalen Ramsey picked off Peterman on a catch that could have been argued as a deflected pass instead of a turnover. After reviewing the play, the play stood and the clock ran out on the Bills.
What To Take Away From This Disappointing Loss:
1.) Tyrod Taylor May Be Out of Buffalo
Taylor has more than likely played his last game as a Buffalo Bill. After suffering a scary head injury on the Bills last offensive drive, Taylor was brought off the field and Nathan Peterman replaced him. Taylor is the first Bills quarterback to lead the team to the playoffs since 1999, but he has been too inconsistent through his three years in Buffalo. Whether it’s holding the ball too long in or out of the pocket or not trusting his receivers down field and going the safest route to the receiver five yards ahead of him.
Taylor is a special player that is able to use his legs in the game, but the Bills have been near the bottom in passing the past couple of years. Nothing is official on Taylor leaving Buffalo, but this loss could seal his fate and he may be playing for another team next season.
2.) The Defense Reloads, Not Rebuild
The Bills defense definitely needs improvement overall. They’ll need to find defensive linemen to plug the run for next season and the Bills need to consider on who to re-sign for defense. Upcoming free agents Preston Brown, E.J. Gaines, and Kyle Williams may get resigned, or may not. Brown and Gaines are more likely to have another chance in Buffalo. At age 34, Williams may have played his last game as a Bill, much like Taylor.
This defense was not looking sharp heading into the season, but they have helped the team win in crucial situations. Take away the games facing the New Orleans Saints, Los Angles Chargers, and the New England Patriots the second time, the defense can be considered the strongest point of the team, specifically the secondary.
3.) The Bills Show Promise For Next Season
The Bills were projected to go 4-12 this season based on who they lost in free agency. Their two biggest acquisitions were Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde no doubt. The duo had 10 combined interceptions and were the unsung heroes for the secondary, along with rookie Tre’Davious White.
Even with a weak offense, Sean McDermott brought the Bills back to being relevant. Even though the Bills needed help to make the playoffs from Andy Dalton and Cincinnati Bengals, they still made it at 9-7. The Bills have a lot of work to do in the offseason, but they show promise with their young talent and the draft picks they hold for this years’ NFL draft.
A team that was not expected to have a winning record made it to the wild card game under a rookie head coach and inconsistency throughout the season. The Bills have a great chance to build in the offseason and prepare themselves to make another playoff run in 2018.
Brandon Ray is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the Buffalo Bills. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_ray79 and @FPC_Bills for Buffalo Bills coverage.