With his job security in question, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick responded by leading the Buffalo Bills’ offense to one of its most complete performances of the season.
Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and scored on a 1-yard run to lead the Bills to a 34-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick led five consecutive scoring drives in which the Bills scored 27 points.
The Bills (5-7) won despite finishing the game without their top two receivers after Stevie Johnson left late in the third quarter after hurting his left hamstring.
Johnson scored on a 13-yard catch earlier in the quarter before leaving the game. The Bills were already minus receiver Donald Jones (calf).
Fred Jackson had 101 yards rushing and fellow running back C.J. Spiller capped the victory with a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter in helping Buffalo score more than 20 points for only the third time in eight games. Buffalo also won for only the third time in nine games.
Fitzpatrick, who has faced criticism for his inconsistent play, finished 9-of-17 for 112 yards. His only miscue was an interception in the first half, which prompted a number of boos from the crowd.
The Bills’ defense responded by limiting Jacksonville to just 236 yards. Mario Williams had a sack, his sixth in four games and team-leading 9 1/2, in which he stripped the ball from Chad Henne and recovered the fumble.
The Jaguars (2-10) were unable to carry over much momentum a week after they ended a seven-game skid with a 24-19 win over Tennessee.
Henne scored on a 1-yard run, and also connected with Cecil Shorts III for a 5-yard touchdown a play after Bills backup punt returner Justin Rodgers fumbled a punt inside his own 10 early in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, the Jaguars had difficulty moving the ball. After going ahead 10-7 on Henne’s 1-yard run with 3:47 left in the second quarter, they managed just five first downs on their next four possessions, which ended with a lost fumble, a failed fourth-down conversion and two punts.
The Bills went ahead for good with 1:56 left in the second quarter, when Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for an 11-yard touchdown.
Williams’ forced fumble, which he recovered at the Jaguars 14, set up Rian Lindell’s 29-yard field goal. Fitzpatrick then opened the second half by capping an eight-play, 57-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Johnson.
Fitzpatrick had entered the game having managed just three touchdown passes in his previous four outings.
The loss spoiled first-year Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey’s his first return to Buffalo since he abruptly resigned after two seasons as Bills coach in January 2006.
Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny had an interception against his former team.
The Bills’ defense did the rest in shutting down a Jaguars offense that had been showing signs of a spark in its previous two games since Henne took over the starting duties in place of injured Blaine Gabbert (shoulder/forearm).
After going 33-of-59 for 615 yards and six TDs in his past two games, Henne struggled against Buffalo. He finished 18-of-41 for 208 yards and a game-ending interception that was picked off by safety Jairus Byrd.
Already playing without running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), the Jaguars lost backup Rashad Jennings, who sustained a head injury early in the second quarter.
Shorts scored on a 5-yard catch before leaving the game with a head injury in the fourth quarter.
Fitzpatrick and Johnson have combined for 22 touchdowns, moving into a tie for fourth on the team list in joining Jim Kelly and Pete Metzelaars.
Chandler’s touchdown was his sixth of the season, matching the team’s single-season record for tight ends shared by himself (2011), Metzelaars (1992) and Jay Riemersma (1998).