The Buffalo Bills severely jeopardized their playoff aspirations as three turnovers proved costly for the Bills as they dropped a 36-14 decision to the Jaguars slipping to 5-6 on the season. Buffalo's defense held Jacksonville to just six points off those turnovers, but those giveaways also wasted offensive opportunities for the Bills and a closely contested game wound up looking one-sided.
"It was disappointing," said head coach Dick Jauron. "We knew it was a big game going in and we have to play almost error free. We can't turn it over and we can't have penalties and we did that."
"I could've played better," said J.P. Losman flatly. "I could've done some things to help our team win this ballgame. I put us in a bad situation with turnovers. Any time you have three turnovers your offense isn't going to be any good. You just can't have that from any player."
Down eight (22-14) early in the fourth quarter Buffalo put together a good looking drive.
Losman was making good use of Anthony Thomas and Fred Jackson as they combined for four carries and three receptions between them as well as a pair of first downs.
A big 19-yard catch and run by Michael Gaines got them into Jaguars territory. But six plays later Losman gunned a pass over the middle intended for Josh Reed and it was picked off by Justin Durant. It was Losman's third turnover on the day.
"I'd like to have that second interception back," said Losman. "It's inexcusable. I've got to see that 'will' (linebacker). We tried to get the ball down the field on that play and we had it. I thought I saw Josh (Reed) open, but I didn't see the will (linebacker)."
Buffalo's defense, which effectively defended their red zone forcing the Jaguars to settle for four field goals before a late touchdown, got the ball back quickly forcing Jacksonville three-and-out. Buffalo had the ball at their own 34 with 6:41 left, but after a five-yard catch and eight-yard carry by Thomas, Losman fired three straight incompletions, two of which were off the mark. And again Buffalo had to punt.
Jacksonville made the most of a second opportunity as David Garrard hit Reggie Williams on a short slant and the receiver took it 59 yards for the touchdown to put the game away. Maurice Jones-Drew piled on late with a 17-yard touchdown run.
The Bills were playing from behind from almost the outset as a 50-yard touchdown run by Fred Taylor capped a seven-play 85-yard drive for a 7-0 Jaguars lead midway through the first quarter.
What made the play particularly painful was Buffalo had Jacksonville stopped on third down after they forced an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-4. But Buffalo's punt return unit was flagged for 12 men on the field giving the Jaguars a fresh set of downs. Taylor's touchdown run came on the very next play.
"We just didn't perform well enough as a team," said Jauron. "We just can't make the mistakes like that and win the game. We've got to play smart and tough and we need to do it all the time."
Buffalo's offense got off to a slow start going three-and-out and six-and-out on their first two possessions.
Again Jacksonville was able to put together a long and steady drive marching 39 yards on 10 plays for a 46-yard field goal by Josh Scobee for a 10-0 lead.
Then four plays into Buffalo's ensuing drive J.P. Losman telegraphed a pass intended for Lee Evans that was intercepted by Sammy Knight and returned to the Bills 27-yard line. The Buffalo defense was able to hold the Jaguars to a field goal and a 13-0 advantage early in the second quarter.
Buffalo finally put a scoring drive together midway through the second. Roscoe Parrish had an important third down conversion to extend the drive early and Fred Jackson provided a spark off the bench with a 13-yard reception and an eight-yard carry to get the Bills in the red zone.
On 3rd-and-9 from the 10-yard line, Losman checked the ball down to Anthony Thomas in the right flat, and he carried a defender into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown reception. It was Thomas' first career touchdown catch.
Following a big 4th-and-1 stop by Aaron Schobel on Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, Buffalo's offense took over at their own 47-yard line. But on a 3rd-and-1 at the Jaguars 44, Losman fumbled on a sneak attempt and Jacksonville recovered.
"As a player you're down and you want to hold onto the ball as long as possible," said Losman of the play. "Going in there and fighting for it, even if you think you're down (you have to) try to hold onto the ball as much as you can. Inexcusable, you've got to hold onto the football."
With under two minutes remaining in the half Jacksonville moved into Buffalo's red zone, but had to settle for a chip shot field goal with six seconds left on the clock to make the score 16-7 at the break.
Buffalo's defense bent early in the second half, but did not break. Jacksonville rolled up 76 yards on their opening drive of the second half, but Kyle Williams dropped Maurice Jones-Drew for a one-yard loss on 3rd-and-2 at the Bills four-yard line to again force the Jaguars to settle for three and a 19-7 advantage.
The Bills followed up with a three-and-out possession, but got the ball back when Brian Moorman's punt was inadvertently kicked by Jaguars defensive back Chad Nkang on the return and Justin Jenkins recovered at the Jacksonville 45.
Buffalo took advantage of the takeaway first getting a key 4th-and-2 conversion from Fred Jackson, before Roscoe Parrish took an end around 24 yards to paydirt on the next play getting key blocks from Jason Peters and Lee Evans. It was Parrish's first career rushing touchdown and closed the gap to 19-14.
After the Bills were offsides on the ensuing kickoff, Rian Lindell, kicking from the Bills 25-yard line put it over the left sideline to give Jacksonville possession at their own 45. The Jaguars again marched into the red zone, but Buffalo's defense held for the fourth straight time after a 3rd-and-goal pass intended for Matt Jones in the end zone from David Garrard fell incomplete. Josh Scobee kicked his fifth field goal to put the Jaguars up eight (22-14) early in the fourth.
"We kept the game close and the defense did a good job keeping them out of the end zone and making them kick the field goals and kept it an eight-point game until late in the game," said Jauron. "But we still didn't make enough plays to win it."
That was followed by a pair of late scores by the Jaguars as the Bills could not muster much in the way of points the rest of the afternoon. Buffalo is on the road next week at Washington.
When asked about Losman's future as the starting quarterback Jauron stated that any and all personnel changes will be announced Wednesday, though he did not indicate whether any were forthcoming. When asked if he considered putting Trent Edwards in the game at any point Sunday he provided a one-word answer.
"No," said Jauron.
Losman was also asked if he's expecting a change at quarterback.
"I'm not even thinking about that right now," Losman said. "I'm really just re-evaluating what happened out there. What I could have done better. Learning from your mistakes and trying to embed in your head not to do that again."
The offensive players in the locker room didn't appear to want to lay all the blame at the feet of Losman for the loss.
"It's not his fault," said Lee Evans. "It's not one person's fault. It's just as an offense we didn't do what we needed to do. We knew what (Jacksonville) wanted to do and they pretty much stuck to it and we didn't do a whole lot to take them out of their plan and that's the biggest thing."
Buffalo lost Chris Kelsay to an ankle injury in the game and Langston Walker left the game late with an elbow problem. Coy Wire suffered a stinger with the right side body going numb as a result and could not return to the game. All three will be re-evaluated Monday.