Tyrod Taylor

Jaguars beat Bills 10-3 in ugly, sometimes unwatchable game

Leave a comment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Blake Bortles put together one decent drive all day, doing as much with his legs as his arm, and the defensive-minded Jacksonville Jaguars eked out an ugly and sometimes unwatchable 10-3 victory against the Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild-card game Sunday.

In the postseason for the first time since January 2008, the third-seeded Jaguars (11-6) advanced to play at No. 2 seed Pittsburgh next week.

The sixth-seeded Bills (9-8) will head home after ending the longest, current playoff drought in North American professional sports.

Bortles was a big reason Jacksonville won the game and a big reason it was so close.

This was far from a passing clinic. It was more like a painful exercise in overcoming poor passing.

Bortles was off most of the day, misfiring short and long, but made up for it with 88 yards rushing. He scrambled for a long first down run after fumbling the ball late, prompting a Bills assistant to slam a clipboard and eliciting a huge grin from Bortles.

“We weren’t sharp, we made some bad plays and did some stupid stuff, but we found a way to win and that’s all that matters,” Bortles said.

He completed 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards, with a touchdown. His TD pass to backup tight end Ben Koyack late in the third quarter was his best throw of the game. It also was a gutsy call on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Bortles did the rest on the ground, scrambling for first downs and helping Jacksonville win its first playoff game at home since the 1997 season.

“You know, when we got beat last week at Tennessee, I didn’t run at all, so I thought we got beat without kind of shooting all of our shots, so I said it made it difficult, so let’s find some ways to move the ball and do some different stuff,” Bortles said.

The Bills had plenty of chances down the stretch, but a huge penalty against Charles Clay and then a tackle that knocked quarterback Tyrod Taylor out of the game ended any threat of a comeback.

Taylor slammed his helmet hard against the ground after getting thrown down by Dante Fowler Jr. He had to be helped off the field and forced backup Nathan Peterman into the game with 1:27 remaining. All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey tipped and then intercepted Peterman’s third pass, and the Jaguars ran out the clock.

“We prepare hard and we study a lot of tape, we practice hard,” Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell said.

“We’re battle-tested, so we know that if we just keep playing ball, good things will happen.”

The Bills finished with 263 yards, with 119 of those coming from hobbled running back LeSean McCoy (ankle).

The Jags had a measly 230 yards. Leonard Fournette ran 21 times for 57 yards.

RUNNING PASSERS

Bortles is the second starting quarterback in the past 25 seasons to win a playoff game with more rushing yards than passing yards (88 rushing, 87 passing). The other was Atlanta’s Michael Vick in the 2004 divisional round against the Rams (119 rushing, 82 passing).

HUGE SWING

Trailing 10-3 with about six minutes to play, the Bills looked as if they picked up a first down on an 11-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Clay. Jacksonville players standing on the sideline pointed to Clay’s feet, and coach Doug Marrone threw the challenge flag. Officials overturned the completion, saying Clay was out of bounds and setting up a third-and-10 play from the Jacksonville 48-yard line. Linebacker Myles Jack sacked Taylor on the next play, forcing a punt.

INJURIES

Bills: Safety Micah Hyde left the game in the third quarter and was being evaluated for a concussion. Cornerback Tre'Davious White went to the locker room in the fourth to be treated for cramps. Safety Colt Anderson injured his right shoulder in the fourth trying to make a diving interception. Guard Richie Incognito (shoulder) and Clay (hamstring) left briefly in the first half but returned.

Jaguars: Linebacker Paul Posluszny left the game with a hip injury, tried to return and then headed to the locker room for further evaluation. He was listed as questionable and returned to the sideline after halftime. Receiver/punt returner Jaydon Mickens left with a hamstring injury and did not return.

UP NEXT

The Jaguars will play at second-seeded Pittsburgh next Sunday, a rematch from Week 5. Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, and Jacksonville won 30-9. The Steelers have won 10 of 11 since, the lone loss coming against New England.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Jaguars enter playoffs with little postseason experience

Leave a comment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Malik Jackson has a Super Bowl ring at home and eight playoff games on his NFL resume.

Few others in Jacksonville’s locker room can say the same.

The Jaguars (10-6) are short on postseason experience heading into Sunday’s AFC wild-card game against Buffalo , with 11 guys having played a combined 42 playoff games. Jackson (eight) and fellow defensive lineman Calais Campbell (nine) have accounted for nearly half of those games in January and February.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

By comparison, the Bills (9-7) have 20 players with a combined 80 postseason games. And that doesn’t include quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who didn’t play in any games but won a Super Bowl as Joe Flacco‘s backup in Baltimore in 2013.

Jackson believes having “been there, done that” matters and plans to do all he can to help his teammates get a grasp on what to expect.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” Jackson said Monday. “I think being able to have playoff experience just to pass that knowledge to the younger players and to people who haven’t done it is important. This can be overwhelming for some. We have a lot of guys that haven’t been here before, so it can be overwhelming.

“We just have to understand to take it day by day and treat it just like the last 16 or 17 weeks. I think we’ll be good.”

Like Jackson and Campbell, punter Brad Nortman (six) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (four) played in more than three playoffs games before joining the Jaguars.

Cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church played in three postseason games elsewhere. Running back Chris Ivory, right tackle Jermey Parnell and cornerback Tyler Patmon have played in two, and tight end James O'Shaughnessy has one.

The lone holdover from Jacksonville’s last postseason run is tight end Marcedes Lewis, who played at Pittsburgh and at New England in January 2008.

“Back when I was a young buck,” Lewis recalled. “A lot has happened between then and now.”

The Jaguars were an NFL-worst 17-63 over the previous five seasons. They enjoyed one of the league’s best turnarounds this season even though they went 3-3 down the stretch and enter the postseason with a two-game losing streak.

Still, the won the AFC South and earned their first postseason berth since 2007 and first home playoff game in 18 years.

“This is the start of a different type of season,” coach Doug Marrone said. “This is 12 teams, six in the AFC and six in the NFC. Every one of those teams has overcome something during the year and has earned the right to be here. Every one of those teams is dangerous, and it comes down to how you perform on that Sunday.”

Like most of his roster, this will be Marrone’s first playoff game in three full seasons as an NFL head coach. He was offensive coordinator for New Orleans in 2006 when the Saints made it to the NFC championship game.

“Anytime you have experience of something, it’s good,” Marrone said. “This way, as you’re up there as a coach or you’re trying to make sure you have your team focused in the direction you want to go, when you’re not around your team and the player sitting next to someone, `Hey, what is this like and that?’ You have that experience in your locker room. I think that’s important.”

Jackson hopes to answer those questions as much as possible this week.

“If anybody wants to listen,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that have at least been to one playoff game, so I think we’ll be able to pass our knowledge down and it’ll be heard very well.”

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Bills end 17-year playoff drought with win and help

Leave a comment

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) The Buffalo Bills snapped the longest current non-playoff drought in North American pro sports with a 22-16 victory Sunday at Miami and Cincinnati’s victory at Baltimore. The Bills hadn’t made the postseason since 1999.

Buffalo (9-7) will travel to Jacksonville next weekend in a wild-card game.

The Bills’ anxiety was compounded by the loss of 1,000-yard rusher LeSean McCoy with a right ankle injury. He was carted off the field in the third quarter.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

The frustration of a disappointing season got the best of the Dolphins (6-10) with 6:21 left, when receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Kenyan Drake and offensive lineman Jake Brendel were ejected following a fight. Landry was cited for disrespecting an official, and Drake for throwing his helmet 20 yards in anger. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were called against both teams.

The undisciplined Dolphins, who came into the game with the second-most penalties in the NFL, had 14 for 145 yards.

Buffalo punctuated the victory with a 1-yard touchdown run by defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who is in his 12th and perhaps final season with the Bills. Williams and his teammates celebrated the first score of his career with choreographed back flops in the end zone.

Golf great Jack Nicklaus wore Bills gear and a smile watching from the stands as his grandson, tight end Nick O'Leary, caught Tyrod Taylor‘s 26-yard touchdown pass.

The Dolphins scored a touchdown with 1:56 left and recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Jordan Poyer‘s interception sealed the win for Buffalo.

Taylor went 19 for 27 for 204 yards and one score. In six games against Miami, he has 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions.

For the Dolphins, the season finale had the feel of an exhibition game, with thousands of empty seats and David Fales giving a lengthy, unimpressive audition as a potential backup quarterback in 2018. Miami was eliminated a week ago and will sit out the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine years.

Miami lost to Buffalo for the seventh time in their past 10 meetings.

REVERSAL

A 98-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the Bills’ Preston Brown was negated by a replay review. Instead, the Dolphins kept possession, and Landry scored on a 1-yard reception on the next play, when the fight broke out.

MIAMI QBS

Miami starter Jay Cutler took three snaps before he was replaced by Fales, a sixth-round draft pick by the Bears in 2014. Fales, who came into the game with only two career completions, went 29 for 42 for 265 yards with one score and one interception.

Cutler, 34, ended a brief retirement to join the Dolphins this year and has said he has not decided whether he wants to play in 2018. Ryan Tannehill is expected to start next year in a comeback from knee surgery that wiped out his 2017 season.

INJURY REPORT

Bills: McCoy was hurt when he carried up the middle. After being tackled, he pounded the turf with his fist as trainers attended to him. He had 10 yards on 11 carries to finish with 1,138 yards rushing, and added 448 receiving on a team-high 59 catches. … RT Jordan Mills (ankle) was helped off the field late in the second quarter.

Dolphins: LB Kiko Alonso suffered a neck injury.

UP NEXT: Buffalo will play a postseason game for the first time since losing at Tennessee in the Music City Miracle game in January 2000. The Bills travel to Jacksonville.

More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve-Wine.