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

Jaguars.

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

weeks, the

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

trap game.

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.

And the

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

2006.

“We talked about the fact that we had not followed up wins

against Indianapolis with good results,” coach Jack Del Rio

said.

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

said.

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

panic.

“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

the

Jaguars’ three victories, completed

16 of 20 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He had a 122.5

passer rating.

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.

The

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

70.

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.

The

Jaguars had put together a 10-play,

85-yard drive to tie the game at 13 with 25 seconds left in the

second quarter.

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.

When the

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

again.

The

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

the

Jaguars.

“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.

The

Jaguars, though, feel they have a

winning chemistry.

“We have a great makeup, the right attitude,” said Lewis, who

led the

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

believe.”

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.

INTERACT

Watch postgame analysis video from the Times-Union’s Gene

Frenette and Tania Ganguli.

jacksonville.com/jaguars