Immediate Reactions: Bills 34, Jaguars 18

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This is what Buffalo sports teams do when math is against them, something I alluded to whilst predicting Buffalo would win 31-13 after last week’s dumpster fire in Indianapolis. For some reason — perhaps ancient curse? — when the Bills or Sabres record dips to a level seemingly beyond logical and mathematical rebound, they put up world-beating performances.

That said, the Jaguars are far from a quality operation, even after beating the Titans last week and hanging with the Texans before that. Buffalo handled its business after going down briefly, 10-7. The Bills record improves to 5-7, leaving tiny glimmers of playoff hope thanks to an AFC that refuses to sort itself out.

– The Bills ran wild over the jungle cats, with Fred Jackson going over 100 yards in getting the lion’s share of the work (in a week, oddly enough, where he told the media Chan Gailey told him he’d be the No. 2 back to C.J. Spiller). The Clemson back, playing in front of his former coach Dabo Swinney, also ripped off a number of good runs as Buffalo methodically pounded, inside and out, the Jaguars defense. The rush opened up play action for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who didn’t really need it. Fitz’s receivers refused to help him out on a number of occasions, featuring drops by Scott Chandler — a troubling development this season — and Stevie Johnson. It rained throughout the first half, but the gloves… they are sticky. No excuses will be made for professional wide receivers in this space.

– The referee crew was flag-happy, much to the chagrin of former WIVB reporter and current UB Bulls play-by-play man Paul Peck. In the booth, Peck pointed out that pass interference calls downfield have begun to account for more yardage than actual passing. There’s a bit of rhetoric there, but there’s also underlying truth.

– As pointed out over the past few weeks of Immediate Reactions, Stephon Gilmore is looking every bit as good as his draft position in this pass-happy National Football League, but is the Bills future No. 2 corner coming from the same draft. Ron Brooks has done some very nice things considering the time he spent out with injuries and that he was behind Mo Claiborne, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu at Louisiana State University.

– Brooks leveled Cecil Shorts with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, a hit that turned scary as Shorts ducked to avoid contact and appeared to be knocked nearly senseless. The Bills trainers gesticulated wildly to the Jaguars sidelines and Jacksonville’s trainers raced to the downed receiver, but fortunately Shorts was up and off the field on his own power.
– Chad Henne was 18-of-41, No. 41 being Jairus Byrd’s fifth interception of the season. The performance looked very Losmanian: a few terrific throws sprinkled amongst a lot of meh.
– Perhaps the playcalling is to blame, after all. No one will make this mistake of saying the R in Ryan stands for Rocket-arm, but for the third-consecutive weeks the Bills quarterback took several shots down the field and connected. This time it was rookie wide receiver T.J. Graham, the draft pick selected for the skill set of a speed merchant. It went for 51 yards and led to Fitzpatrick’s rushing touchdown, one of three TDs on the day for No. 14. He added two through the air. It’s the third-straight year with 20 or more passing touchdowns for Fitzpatrick.
– Know what’s screwy? The Steelers and Bengals, each 6-6 heading into today, still play each other & both have Baltimore left (in Pittsburgh’s case, today). The Buffalo Bills could technically be in the thick of it. Just imagine if Gailey and Co. hadn’t went gaffe-tastic versus Tennessee, New England, Indy…

Stat line I liked…

Bills tailbacks, 39 carries, 186 yards, TD

– Still want to see more carries given to C.J. Spiller rather than the kindergarten “It’s his turn” mentality, but the Bills chewed up the Jaguars a carry at a time.

Stat line I didn’t like…

Bills penalties, nine for 100 yards.

– Honestly, there isn’t a terrible amount to dislike. The Bills comfortably beat a bad football team. That’s kinda what they do.

Game ball(s)…

The offensive line

– Holes for days. Jackson deserves a game ball, but a hippo couldn’t run untouched through several of the openings. Gaps and fits, blah blah blah.

Lastly…

– Dominant, as they should be. The game brings great anguish to the won-loss record in a weak, shallow AFC.

Next week…

– Enter the Rams. I hate saying this, but I expect Jeff Fisher to simply outcoach Chan Gailey. Will it be enough for the young Rams on the road? I don’t think so. Talent over trade as Buffalo wins 24-20.

Email: nick@fcbuffalo.org

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