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Early lead disappears in loss to Jaguars

Posted Oct 10, 2010

The Bills built an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Buffalo could not make it stand up as the Jaguars roared back with 17 unanswered points between the second and third quarters to turn a 13-3 deficit into a 20-13 advantage en route to a 36-26 victory. Buffalo fell to 0-5 on the season, the first time they’ve dropped their first five games of the season since 1985.

“We’ve proved we can lose every game,” said Eric Wood of the team's winless start. “We’ve made enough mistakes every game to lose them. It’s time for us to stop making those mistakes. I don’t think anybody is guilt-free at this point. We all need to pick it up.”

“We did a lot of good things, but we also shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” said Lee Evans. “It’s really no magic potion. Nothing you can really say.”

The Bills were able to tie the score at 20 with 6:56 left in the third quarter. Donte Whitner recovered a David Garrard fumble on a 4th-and-inches quarterback sneak at the Jacksonville 45. Six plays later, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Steve Johnson on his back side shoulder in the front right corner of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown reception to knot the game back up.

Jacksonville, however, responded with a touchdown drive of their own, rolling up 53 yards on nine plays with Mike Sims-Walker pulling in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Garrard to regain their seven point edge (27-20).

The Jaguars wound up scoring the next 16 points, adding three straight field goals drives before Steve Johnson pulled in a seven-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes remaining.

Despite the fact that the game looked respectable on the scoreboard, head coach Chan Gailey was particularly disappointed with the performance over the final two quarters.

“I thought we got whipped physically on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the second half,” said an exasperated Gailey. “We’ve got to learn to play stronger in the second half. This is one of several games we’ve been in at halftime and we have not played strong in the third and four quarter and we’ve got to learn to do that.”

Turnovers were a part of the game where the Bills were sorely lacking the first month of the season. Through four games they had just one and were the only team without an interception, but that changed on Sunday. Buffalo’s special teams forced a fumble on kickoff coverage and Andra Davis had an interception on Jacksonville’s first possession. The two takeaways led to an early 10-0 lead in a game where the Bills finished a plus-3 in the turnover category.

After their first offensive series went three-and-out, punter Brian Moorman hung a 44-yard punt high allowing his coverage unit to make a play on the Jacksonville returner as the ball arrived. Donald Jones got to Jaguars returner Mike Thomas first and Cary Harris soon followed and jarred the ball loose. Long snapper Garrison Sanborn recovered.

One play later Ryan Fitzpatrick fired a 30-yard laser to Lee Evans in stride down the near sideline for a 45-yard touchdown catch and a 7-0 lead.

Buffalo’s defense then posted their first interception of the season three plays into Jacksonville’s ensuing possession. David Garrard’s pass on a 2nd-and-7 at the Jaguars’ 39 was tipped at the line by Torell Troup. The fluttering ball was then picked off by Davis, who returned it to the Jaguars 30.

The Bills drive stalled thanks in part to a penalty in the red zone forcing Buffalo to take a 29-yard Rian Lindell field goal. In fact Buffalo had penalties in the red zone on three consecutive drives in the first half.

“Not scoring touchdowns in the first half when we could have – getting penalties – just dumb penalties,” said Gailey. “We cannot do that. We’ve got to score touchdowns. We can’t afford to come away with just three points in those situations.”

“Any time you get a penalty in the red zone and you start going backwards everything is so crunched down there where the space is tight and you can’t have negative yardage plays,” said Ryan Fitzpatrick. “I can’t say anything other than we have to eliminate them.”

And taking field goals instead of touchdowns made it more difficult for Buffalo to hold onto the lead. After the Bills defense held the Jaguars to a pair of long field goals to maintain a 13-6 edge, they gave up a touchdown drive with under a minute to play in the half, with Marcedes Lewis scoring on a one-yard touchdown reception on a 2nd-and-goal play to tie the score.

In the end Buffalo’s defense had trouble slowing down the Jaguars balanced attack. Maurice Jones-Drew averaged 4.4 per carry and Jacksonville’s tight end Lewis had a pair of touchdowns as the Bills gave up 30 points or more for the fourth straight game. It was also the third straight game in which the defense surrendered 200 rushing yards or more, which was just the second time in team history that has occurred.

And that happened despite the fact that Buffalo tried to employ a heavier defensive front with four down linemen on the line of scrimmage.

“We started off strong, got that big turnover, but in the second half we didn’t come out and execute like we should have,” said Paul Posluszny. “We felt like we had a good plan going in and knew what was coming, but they did a couple of things a little better than we did.”

“When you’re 0-5 you try anything,” said Davis. “Evidently we’re struggling just to find anything to work for us, but we’re looking for answers and we’re searching for them.”

Buffalo will look to right the wrongs of the season’s first five weeks as they are on the bye for Week 6.

“We’re searching greatly for what the right answer is,” said Gailey. “You look at it and you try to evaluate what your guys are doing and put them in a position to be successful. You’re always looking for a way to get better and I’m never going to stop doing that. You can’t get down. You’ve just go to move forward and find ways to get better.”