The Jacksonville Jaguars broke a 10-year playoff drought because of their defense, so it wasn’t surprising that the defense carried most of the load in Sunday’s 10-3 AFC wild-card win over the Buffalo Bills at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville, which won the AFC South title and the No. 3 seed for the AFC playoffs, advances to a conference semifinal next Sunday at No. 2 Pittsburgh. The Jaguars intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times in a 30-9 Week 5 victory.
Buffalo lost its first playoff game since 1999 because of a familiar storyline — lack of offensive punch. The Bills actually carved out a 263-230 advantage in total yardage, but weren’t able to make big plays due to their lack of a passing game.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 17 of 37 attempts for only 129 yards with an interception before being knocked out with 1:17 remaining after a scramble.
LeSean McCoy gutted out 75 yards on 19 rushes despite an ankle injury suffered in last week’s win at Miami that left his status up in the air until about 90 minutes before kickoff.
Backup quarterback Nathan Peterman guided the Buffalo offense to the Jacksonville 38 after relieving Taylor. But after an intentional grounding penalty, he was intercepted by Jalen Ramsey at midfield with 26 seconds remaining to seal the outcome.
The Jaguars’ offense finished nine drives with punts, but none with turnovers. Blake Bortles completed 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards and the game’s only touchdown. Bortles avoided interceptions entirely after throwing five in the previous two games.
Bortles also provided an unexpected boost in the running game, picking up a career-high 88 yards on 10 carries and extending multiple drives with his legs. One of those was the touchdown drive that he ended with a 1-yard pass to backup tight end Ben Koyack with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“When we got beat last week at Tennessee, I didn’t run at all, so we got beat without shooting all our shots,” Bortles said after the game. “We made some bad plays, but we won and that’s all that matters.”
Stephen Hauschka’s 31-yard field goal gave the Bills a 3-0 edge with 1:49 left in the first half. Josh Lambo converted from 44 yards with two seconds remaining in the half to equalize for Jacksonville. –REUTERS