This game was setting up like several other games over the past few years. The Bills hung tough against a very good opponent on the road but in the end they probably didn't have enough to win, especially in the extreme heat of North Florida. It may be true now that this is a different Bills team. They sucked it up after Jacksonville had taken control of the game and took it right back in a 10 point fourth quarter for a come from "ahead" 20-16 impressive win.
The Bills were very impressive early as they took the opening kickoff when Jacksonville deferred possession to the 2nd half. They would make them pay as Trent Edwards led the team on an 82 yard drive in 11 plays as the team used the passing attack most of the game. Turk Schonert showed several wrinkles offensively including using both Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson on the field most of the game. On the opening drive Edwards spread the ball around to Jackson, Josh Reed, and Lee Evans to setup the Marshawn Lynch 11 yard touchdown run and a 7-0 lead.
The Bills controlled the game most of the first half and after an exchange of field goals they had a 10-3 lead late in the first half. Terrence McGee picked off a pass in the end zone just before halftime to hold the seven point lead.
The Jaguars started taking the game over in the second quarter and that continued in the third as they shook off the turnover before the half. They opened the third quarter with an 11 play, 74 yard drive to a Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown run of two yards to tie the score. They were able to run very well up the middle on that drive against a Bills defense that began to look like last year's defense at the time.
The defense was huffing and puffing in the extreme heat that was up to 110° on the field. They were on the field for a good portion of the final half of the 2nd quarter and the long opening drive of the third quarter. It didn't help that the Jaguars pulled off a surprise special teams play this week with a surprise onside kick that they recovered.
At that point it was easy to think about the last few seasons and figure the defense would continue to wilt allow the Jaguars to pull away. This is a different Bills team though after allowing two more big runs up the middle they shut down the Jaguars and held them to a long 50 yard field goal to put the Bills behind for the first time this year at 13-10.
The Bills faced more adversity on their first offensive series of the half after two straight scores by the Jags. After a big 26 yard reception by Jackson, who showed once again that he's excellent at running after the catch, the Bills were moving but it ended quick when Edwards was hit and fumbled the ball away.
The Bills tired and weary defense came back on the field and kept the Jaguars at bay and forced them to kick another field goal to take a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. If the Bills defense gave up seven with either of those two drives after turnovers the Bills would have been hard pressed to come back and win.
After the two teams traded punts the Bills started the winning touchdown drive. They stayed aggressive on the drive and the big play was a third and six bomb to Evans that went for 37 yards to put the Bills on the Jaguars 7. Then it was time for a new hero, James Hardy would do what he came to do. He caught a jump ball pass in the back of the end zone, took a good push, and managed to get his feet down in bounds for the go ahead score. The Jaguars challenged the very close play but it was upheld.
There was no way the defense was going to allow the Jaguars to win this game after they worked so hard and the offense got the lead back. The Jaguars went three plays and lost 10 yards thanks to a sack by Kyle Williams.
Roscoe Parrish returned the punt 27 yards and set the Bills up. They ran the clock down thanks to an 11 yard completion to Derek Schouman and that setup Rian Lindell's 45 yard field goal to put the icing on the cake.
This team played a solid all around effort in tough conditions and showed how they can face adversity in a game on the road against a good team and still win the game. The defense wilted a bit in the third quarter but toughened in time to allow the offense to re-take the game. Edwards continues to show poise, accuracy, and pocket presence and is really developing quickly. The special teams wiped the egg of their faces from the onside kick and setup the big return by Parrish. Just a great win with the schedule setting the team up well over the next few weeks, the league will begin to buzz about this team.
In the past this game was a loss. This is a new team that is incredibly confident and focused on the one goal of getting to the playoffs. A few more games like this and they just may realize this dream.
Here are our exclusive gameballs and goats from the Bills game against the Jaguars: