It won’t go down in the record books as one of the finest offensive performances the football world has ever seen, but the Jaguars won’t be complaining about the result of Sunday’s game against the Bills.
The Jaguars defense gave up one field goal all afternoon and the offense was able to put together one touchdown drive in the third quarter, which was enough to give Jacksonville a 10-3 win in their first playoff game since 2007. The game ended when Jalen Ramsey intercepted Nathan Peterman with 26 seconds left to play in the game. Peterman was in because Tyrod Taylor had to leave after his head slammed into the ground when he was wrestled down by defensive end Dante Fowler.
Jacksonville will be in Pittsburgh in the divisional round next weekend and will be hoping for a repeat of their regular season meeting with the Steelers as they won 30-9 behind five interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger.
Given their offensive output on Sunday, they may need that kind of performance to keep their season going. Blake Bortles went 12-of-23 for 87 yards to become the fifth quarterback since the merger to start and finish a playoff win while throwing for under 100 yards. It’s not a new experience for the Bills, whose last playoff appearance ended with Steve McNair throwing for 76 yards in the 22-16 loss to the Titans best known for the Music City Miracle.
Bortles was effective running the ball, however. He ended the game with 88 rushing yards to join Michael Vick, Bob Griese, Tom Matte and Otto Graham as quarterbacks who ran for more yards than they picked up through the air while winning a postseason game.
The Bills never took the ball away, although there were a couple of near misses on Bortles passes, and their offense wasn’t measurably better. They wound up with 263 yards and Sean McDermott will be second-guessed for not running the ball after a Jaguars penalty set the Bills up with four downs from the 1-yard-line in the second quarter because LeSean McCoy, gimpy ankle and all, was the best thing the Buffalo offense had on Sunday.
Taylor, who may have been playing his final game for Buffalo, was intercepted once and averaged fewer yards per attempt than Bortles. That inability to pick up chunks of yards and the Jaguars defense made it almost impossible to envision a Bills comeback after the Jaguars got the ball into the end zone.
The Steelers should provide more of a challenge for the defense, although the story of the Jaguars season has been that the unit can deliver exactly what’s needed to overcome any offensive ineptitude.