By Julie Dixon // @ABroncoNole
In a strange set of occurrences, this writer was at the Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills playoff game. One hour before kickoff, a friend walked into my house waving tickets that her customer just gave her because she decided not to go.
The mad dash we embarked on was one that would’ve won the Great Race. Sometimes everything goes your way, from green lights to little traffic to finding the perfect parking spot because one person inexplicably left. We watched the first three drives on my phone as we walked from the car, and up the ramps. In one hour and ten minutes, we got dogs out, two females change (including make-up), stopped for cash and drove 23 miles. It was worth it!
People who watched the game on TV complained about it being boring because the offensives weren’t stellar, but I can say, the fans there were amped. For those us who attended, it was a ground and pound game from days of old. Defense ruled with the offense doing just enough.
I had written in my preview that quarterback Blake Bortles was 18-0 in the red zone for TD-INT and the Jags should run the ball in between, and that’s what they did. Bortles delivered on a 4th down strike, in the red zone. The lone touchdown of the game.
In my game preview, I wrote that if the Jags could stop running back LeSean McCoy, this would force Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor to throw more and since he didn’t have many throwing yards, this would not work well for Buffalo. It didn’t. I had also said he was like Titans QB Marcus Mariota in his scrambling, something that gave Jacksonville fits. They did give up too many yards, however, he wasn’t able to get yards when it mattered most. It looks as though my thought that Taylor was playing for his job may be correct.
This may also be true for Jacksonville. Stop RB Leonard Fournette, force Bortles to throw. What Buffalo didn’t plan on, was Bortles using his 6’5” frame and underappreciated athleticism to make up for them focusing on bogging Fournette down. If I had to pick one play that I think was pivotal, it was Bortles taking a dropped snap way back in their territory, scooping it up and running for a first down.
What stood out in this game was the coaching. Each team actually did a good job attacking where they could, covering up deficiencies as they could and adjusting. Also, I must bring up that the wind kept changing directions and was sporadic. This, I believe, is why there wasn’t much throwing. Both teams wanted to keep turnovers to a minimum. Unless you have a QB who can throw a tight spiral with a lot of umph, the wind really wreaks havoc.
One other item of note, the Jags have been very good at game planning for upcoming opponents. Head coach Doug Marrone knows Taylor, and knows he isn’t much of a passer. Therefore, the plan seemed to be to let the defense defeat him and keep the offense from turning the ball over. Hence, only 23 passing plays called and only one deep.
Crowd noise had to affect the Bills. While there were many Buffalo fans there, the Jaguars fans were loud and seemed to disrupt the Bills more than once.
On paper, Jacksonville should’ve lost. Only 2 third downs, less passing yards, less total plays, 12 completions, longest for 20. Five minutes less time of possession. Which shows stats between the 20’s aren’t helpful if there are two turnovers to no touchdowns.
On Sunday, the Jaguars will face the Steelers in Pittsburgh, a place they caused five interceptions in week 5. Doubtful they will employ as safe a game plan as last Sunday.
Talk Jaguars and NFL Playoffs with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole