JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — No surprise, the Jacksonville Jaguars really missed running back Maurice Jones-Drew and receiver Cecil Shorts III.
Jones-Drew (hamstring) and Shorts (groin) sat out their first game of the season Sunday, watching from the sideline as the Jacksonville Jaguars came up short in a 27-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Jordan Todman filled in nicely for MJD, running 25 times for 109 yards. But the Jaguars didn’t feel comfortable having the 198-pound back run up the middle with the ball on the 1-yard line in a seven-point game down the stretch.
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Instead, Todman’s outside run lost 4 yards, forcing Jacksonville to throw the next two downs. Both of Chad Henne’s passes were off-target, the first one nearly intercepted and the second one picked off in the end zone with 3:15 remaining.
Without Shorts, the Jaguars turned to Mike Brown. He caught three passes for 20 yards, but he also had a costly fumble late in the first half and another one he was lucky to recover.
The Jaguars (4-10) finished with four turnovers.
“Definitely a bad taste in your mouth after the performance out there as a team today,” left tackle Cam Bradfield said.
Jacksonville was in the game all day despite the injuries and the turnovers. Starting left guard Will Rackley (concussion) and safety Johnathan Cyprien (thigh) also sat out. Things got worse when backup guard Mike Brewster broke his left ankle in the first half.
The Jaguars trailed 20-10 at halftime, but tied the game on Henne’s 13-yard TD pass to Marcedes Lewis early in the fourth. It was the third consecutive game Lewis had a TD reception.
Manuel answered, though, capping an 89-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass to fullback Frank Summers. With it, Manuel set the franchise’s rookie record for touchdown passes with 11.
Jacksonville had two chances to even the score ago, but more miscues proved costly.
Henne said he threw the pass to Brown because his receiver was being held and he expected a flag.
It never came.
“You’ve got to throw it or they’re not going to see who the receiver is,” Henne said. “If you don’t throw it, they don’t call it. My job is to throw it where he’s supposed to be and obviously they didn’t see it.”
Still, the Jaguars had one final shot, getting the ball back with 1:46 remaining, but failed to pick up a first down.
Henne was sacked for the fifth time on the final drive, giving Buffalo an NFL-leading 49.
The turnovers were the big concern.
“Four turnovers, we’re not going to win any games,” Henne said. “You lose the turnover battle, your chances of winning are very slim, so our job is to protect the ball and score points when we’re down.”
Along with Henne’s late interception, the play Jacksonville will point to is Denard Robinson’s fumble near the goal line early in the third. Aaron Williams knocked the ball loose for the Bills, and it rolled through the end zone for a touchback.
The errors helped bring Jacksonville’s three-game winning streak to an end.
“It was a game of missed opportunities,” Jags coach Gus Bradley said. “We didn’t play like we’re capable of playing, whether it was a fumble, interception, things like that. In the locker room, our hearts are broken right now because of this, but I felt like our spirit is not.”