A QUICK BOUNCE BACK;Jags recover from early miscues for second consecutive win
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – The
Jaguars dug themselves into a deep
hole Sunday and then climbed all the way out to grab a share of
first place in the AFC South.
Let that roll off your tongue. First-place
And they did it after coughing the ball up twice in the first
quarter while falling behind 10-0 before charging back to beat the
winless Buffalo Bills, 36-26.
Just two weeks after getting drilled by 25 points in consecutive
Jaguars are back in the midst of the
division race that is virtually starting over. All four teams, the
Jaguars, Colts, Texans and Titans,
are 3-2. The
Jaguars haven’t won a division title
since 1999 when Tom Coughlin was the coach.
They came back from a 10-point road deficit for the first time
since 2005 when they did it at Cleveland, and avoided a classic
The matchup against the winless Bills was sandwiched between an
emotional victory against the Colts and next Monday night’s crucial
division game against their old nemesis, the Tennessee Titans.
Jaguars didn’t exactly have a
history of dealing well with the euphoria of a home victory over
the Colts. They lost two a row in after beating the Colts in 2003
and three consecutive games after last beating them at home in
“We talked about the fact that we had not followed up wins
against Indianapolis with good results,” coach Jack Del Rio
So when the Bills capitalized on Mike Thomas’ fumbled punt
return and David Garrard’s tipped interception, the
Jaguars quarterback was thinking the
same thing many of the fans were.
“It almost felt like, ‘Here we go again.’ It wasn’t a great
feeling. You don’t want to start off down like that,” Garrard
But, he added, “You’ve got to keep grinding. You’ve got to
continue to play the game.”
That’s what the
Jaguars did, showing no signs of
“I thought we showed some grit hanging in there in an adverse
situation and really took control of the game,” Del Rio said.
Del Rio said the team’s veteran leadership was a big factor.
“You could feel it on the sidelines,” he said. “They’re saying,
“OK let’s hang in there. Let’s stick together.’ ”
Thomas and Garrard, the two players who committed the early
turnovers, sparked the comeback.
Thomas finished the game with four catches for 51 yards and ran
three reverses for 53 yards.
Garrard, who has eight touchdown passes and one interception in
Jaguars’ three victories, completed
16 of 20 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 122.5
Tight end Marcedes Lewis caught two of the touchdown passes to
boost his season total to five, a
Jaguars record for tight ends.
As expected, the
Jaguars had little trouble running
against a Buffalo defense ranked last in the NFL. The Bills, who
switched to a 3-4 this year, even played four down linemen in an
attempt to slow down the running game, but to no avail.
Jaguars ran for 216 yards with
Jones-Drew getting 84 and rookie Deji Karim, making his NFL debut
after missing the first four games with a thumb injury, adding
The Bills have given up over 200 rushing yards three games in a
row, the first time that’s happened since 1972.
Mike Sims-Walker, who didn’t catch a pass in the
Jaguars’ previous two wins, had
four catches for 46 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown catch
to break a 20-20 tie.
Jaguars had put together a 10-play,
85-yard drive to tie the game at 13 with 25 seconds left in the
Karim then returned the second-half kickoff 51 yards to set up a
39-yard touchdown drive to give the
Jaguars a 20-13 lead.
Jaguars forced the Bills to punt,
they seemed to have the game under control.
But facing a 4th-and-1 at the
Jaguars 45, Del Rio decided to go
for it. He thought he got word to Garrard to call timeout if the
play looked “ugly.”
The message didn’t get to Garrard, who called the play only to
have a lineman kick the ball out of his hands.
The Bills took over, scored to tie it 20-20 on a Ryan
Fitzpatrick 5-yard pass to Steve Johnson, and it was a game
Jaguars, though, quickly regained
control. Karim returned a kickoff 41 yards and the
Jaguars put together a 53-yard
scoring drive to take the lead for good.
Del Rio was the first to admit it wasn’t a vintage showing for
“We just didn’t really ever quite hit our rhythm today as a
football team and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.
Jaguars, though, feel they have a
“We have a great makeup, the right attitude,” said Lewis, who
Jaguars in both receptions (four)
and receiving yards (54).
“To see everybody just roll with the punches and not blink, it’s
big-time. We expect to win. There’s a great group of guys. We all
AFC SOUTH LOGJAM
TEAM REC. DIV.
Houston 3-2 1-0
Jacksonville 3-2 1-0
Tennessee 3-2 0-0
Indianapolis 3-2 0-2
Jaguars’ next division game, Oct.
18 vs. Titans.
Watch postgame analysis video from the Times-Union’s Gene
Frenette and Tania Ganguli.