I'm sure there was a lot of curiosity on the part of Bills fans for this weeks game. It was a very tumultuous week at One Bills Drive, with the release of head coach Dick Jauron, and the benching of starting quarterback Trent Edwards. Unfortunately for the Bills, the end result was the same as the previous week, as the team wilted in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to fall in Jacksonville 18-15. One thing can be said for certain, Interim Coach Perry Fewell had his guys ready to play, and you could see right off the bat that Coach Fewell was going to put his stamp on the team by receiving the kickoff after winning the toss. Ryan Fitzpatrick came in on the first play, and could not connect with Lee Evans over the middle, and was intercepted a play later on a very poorly thrown ball by Sean Considine. He returned the ball 25 yards to the Bills 28 yard line. Fortunately for the Bills, the defense stalled the Jacksonville drive after a David Garrard incompletion on third down from the Bills 11 yard line. Josh Scobee made a 29 yard field goal to put Jacksonville up 3-0.
The first play on the next Bills drive, they had Fred Jackson operate out of the wildcat formation, and he took the direct snap for a 12 yard gain off the right side of the line to the Buffalo 32 yard line. The Bills drove the ball to the Jacksonville 43, and were faced with a 3rd and 15, when Fitzpatrick found Owens on a beautiful connection down the middle for a 28 yard pickup. A couple plays later, the Bills were forced with another third down from the Jacksonville 14, and Fitzpatrick found Owens for a 6 yard pickup. Rian Lindell hit the 26 yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. Owens on this drive had 3 catches for 44 yards. Fewell and Alex Van Pelt’s game plan was to attack through the air going to Owens often.
The Buffalo defense came up big on the next Jacksonville series, as George Wilson intercepted Garrard and returned it 27 yards to the Jacksonville 9. The Bills could not take advantage of this mistake and turn the miscue into seven points. A Jackson touchdown run was nullified by a Shawn Nelson illegal chop block penalty on first down. Then on 3rd and 17, Fitzpatrick found Owens for a 7 yard gain to the Jacksonville 10 yard line. The pass was not enough for a first down, and Lindell came on to hit a 28 yard field goal to give the Bills a 6-3 lead.
Jacksonville came back on the next drive, and drove right down the field on the Bills. On 2nd and 8 from their own 24 yard line, Garrard hit his tight end Marcedes Lewis for 24 yards to take the ball near midfield. Garrard converted two critical third down plays to keep the drive going. He found Torry Holt for a 10 yard completion taking the ball to the Buffalo 40 yard line. On the next third down, Garrard ran for a 6 yard gain to the Bills 28 yard line. One play later, Garrard found big receiver Mike Sims-Walker for a 28 yard gain to the Bills 1 yard line on a play action pass. A couple plays later, Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball in for a touchdown from 3 yards out to put Jacksonville ahead 10-6.
On the Bills next possession, Fitzpatrick converted a big 3rd down to Owens for 18 yards to get the Bills across midfield. A critical turnover would occur a couple plays later when Marshawn Lynch fumbled at the Jacksonville 33 yard line, and the ball was recovered by Derrick Harvey.
The Bills defense would hold, and force a punt. After a couple of quick three and outs by both teams, the Bills got the ball with just under two minutes left in the half, and Fitzpatrick took Buffalo right down the field as he made a quick completion to Jackson for 10 yards, and Evans for 15 taking the ball near midfield. The big play of the drive came on 2nd and 10 from the Jacksonville 43, when he found Nelson on a beautiful 25 yard toss and catch to help set up a 22 yard field goal by Lindell to cut the lead to one point at the half.
As the second half started, the Bills kept going to Owens. They forced Jacksonville to punt, and took over at their own 2 yard line. Fitzpatrick took the snap and lofted a deep ball to an open Owens who caught the ball down the right sideline and shook off one defender and ran it in for an amazing 98 yard touchdown. Coach Fewell, Fitzpatrick, and Owens were celebrating, and it was a good sight to see after such a week filled with turmoil. A bobbled snap forced Brian Moorman to throw for the two point conversion but it fell incomplete.
The score remained 15-10 going into the fourth quarter, and unfortunately for the Bills, guard Eric Wood suffered a major injury on a 3rd and 3 pass completion to Josh Reed. He needed to be helped up by trainers and Owens to get him on the cart. That was devasting news for the Bills who were already down linemen going into the game. On the next play Fitzpatrick was hurried due to pressure, he bought time, and threw a 53 yard touchdown pass to Evans, which was nullified due to an illegal use of hands penalty by Jonathan Scott. This penalty tremendously hurt the Bills, because the touchdown would have put them up by two scores. The Bills were forced to punt, and Jacksonville went on a drive right down the field to the Bills 21 yard line, when on second down Garrard fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Spencer Johnson to stop Jacksonville’s drive. The Bills did not take advantage of the turnover, and gave the ball back to Jacksonville with just over six minutes left.
On second down, Garrard found Walker for a 12 yard gain near midfield, and then a play later hit Holt for a big 15 yard pickup to the Bills 35 yard line. Jacksonville moved the ball the Bills 2 yard line, and first down Jones-Drew was stopped after a one yard pickup. Jones-Drew also got the carry on second down, and lost two yards. However on third down with just under a minute left, Garrard found Walker for a 3 yard touchdown pass, and converted the two point conversion with a quarterback draw up the middle to put Jacksonville ahead 18-15.
The Bills had :50 left to try to get into field goal range, on the first play of the drive Fitzpatrick found Owens for a 15 yard pickup to the Jaguars 46, and then the Bills hurried to the line to spike the ball. On second down, Fitzpatrick could not connect with a wide open Owens forcing a critical third down play. The third down pass was batted down by Jacksonville due to heavy pressure, and on fourth down Fitzpatrick was hit, and the ball sailed on him, as it was knocked in the air by Owens, and intercepted by Anthony Smith to end the game.
This was a great effort by the Bills as they played very hard with many injuries on the offensive line. Fewell had them ready to go with a aggressive game plan of getting Owens involved a lot. Owens finished the day with 197 yards receiving, and one touchdown. We saw what kind of weapon he could be if utilized properly within the Bills offensive system, but yet again this team does not know how to finish games in the fourth quarter. They have will have to find a way to bounce back this week, as division rival Miami comes into town.
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