The Jaguars (2-9) scored the team's first opening drive touchdown of the season, held the lead for the entire first half and produced multiple sacks, but that wasn't enough to score a win on the road against the Buffalo Bills (6-5) on Sunday at New Era Field.
Jacksonville's first half momentum failed to carry over beyond halftime, as the Bills ran wild in the second half. Buffalo's offensive rebirth led to a 28-21 loss for the Jaguars, the team's sixth-straight defeat.
The Bills offense was shut down for the majority of the first half, but came alive in the third quarter. Running back LeSean McCoy's success dictated Buffalo's luck against the Jaguars.
McCoy only collected five yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the first half. In the second half, he provided 98 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. His 75-yard score to open the second half changed the momentum of the entire game. He finished the game with 134 totals yards and two touchdowns.
Similarly, the Jaguars' momentum was based around the running game. Chris Ivory exploded for 44 rushing yards and a touchdown in the first half, but injured his hamstring in the second quarter. After losing Ivory, the Jaguars offense stumbled until Denard Robinson picked up the slack in the third quarter. Robinson finished the game with 39 yards on 13 carries, his biggest offensive output of the season.
Both passing games faltered for the majority of the contest. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles completed just 4-of-10 passes for 30 yards in the first half. He ended up completing 13-of-26 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns on the day. He also ran for a career-high 81 rushing yards.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had an uneven performance as well. He completed just 12-of-18 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He added another 39 yards and a touchdown as a runner.
Taylor's early struggles caused the Bills offense to stumble throughout the first half. His top target, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, caught just three receptions for 80 yards.
Taylor failed to find a lot of early success because of the Jaguars' pass rush. Jacksonville sacked Taylor five times. Jaguars defensive end Malik Jackson and Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus each produced two sacks.
The referees also heavily impacted the game. The Jaguars were given questionable penalties at key points during the contest. A forced fumble was wiped off the board because of a forward progress ruling. A pass interference call on Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara also removed an interception by safety Tashaun Gipson.
The Jaguars were billed for six penalties for 60 yards. The Bills produced six penalties for 31 yards.
The Jaguars received the ball first after a touchback on the opening kickoff.
Running back Chris Ivory picked up the game's initial earned first down with a 10-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Three plays later - on third and 8 - Bortles was able to hit wide receiver Marqise Lee on a crossing route to gain another first down.
Later - on third and 6 - Bortles scrambled for a 28-yard gain, setting up the offense in the redzone. The big run by Bortles was followed up by another big run from Ivory. On third and goal from the Buffalo four-yard line, a pass by Bortles was batted down but the Bills were called for holding. The penalty gave the Jaguars a fresh set of downs.
On first down from the Buffalo two-yard line, Ivory ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Following an extra point by kicker Jason Myers, the Jaguars led 7-0 with 8:15 remaining in the first quarter. The score was the Jaguars' first opening drive touchdown since Week 2 of last season against the Miami Dolphins.
The Jaguars defense carried the momentum on the next series. Jacksonville's defensive unit forced Buffalo's offense off the field after just three plays. The Bills punted to wide receiver Rashad Greene, who muffed the return but was able to recover the loose ball at the Jaguars' 21-yard line.
After picking up another first down with an Ivory run, Bortles was unable to connect with wide receiver Allen Hurns on third and 4. The Jaguars were forced to punt for the first time in the game. Punter Brad Nortman booted the ball to the Buffalo 16-yard line but the coverage unit only allowed for a one-yard return.
Starting at their own 17-yard line, the Bills were held to another three and out. On third down, quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sacked by rookie defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. It was the rookie's sixth quarterback takedown of the season. The Bills punted and Greene muffed the return again. The returner was able to recover the ball and picked up a few yards on the return.
Following the return, the Jaguars picked up another first down on an Ivory run but were forced to punt three plays later. The punt by Nortman pinned the Bills within their own 10-yard line.
The Bills offense was able to claim its first earned first down on a scramble by Taylor. Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson was later called for pass interference, which allowed the Bills to pick up 22 yards of field position. However, a sack by Jaguars defensive end Malik Jackson stunted the Bills' momentum two plays later.
Following the sack, the Bills were called for a false start. On third and 22, the Jaguars forced Taylor into an incomplete pass. Buffalo punted again, but this time, wide receiver Bryan Walters was able to call for a fair catch.
With the Jaguars back on offense, Bortles hit tight end Neal Sterling for a six-yard completion and a first down. Sterling's progress was marked at the first down marker. The Bills challenged the play but the call was upheld.
On third and 5, Bortles connected with wide receiver Allen Robinson on a 22-yard completion. However, the Bills challenged the result, as Robinson didn't get both feet inbounds. The call was overturned and the Jaguars were forced to punt.
The Bills offense went immediately to the air, as Taylor hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a gain of 12 yards and a first down. On third and 5, Taylor connected with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for another first down. However, the Jaguars defense was able to force a fourth Bills punt just three plays later.
The Jaguars failed to get anything going on their next drive. Bortles was sacked by Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on second down. On third and 18, the Jaguars chose to play it safe and run the ball with running back Denard Robinson.
After a "running into the punter" penalty on the Bills, Nortman punted again to wide receiver Brandon Tate. The returner ran the ball the back to the Jaguars' 22-yard line. An illegal formation penalty on linebacker Myles Jack gave the Bills an extra five yards.
On third and 2, Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara stopped a third down conversion on a completion to wide receiver Walt Powell. On fourth and 1, Jonathan Williams ran for six yards and picked up a first down.
The Bills would eventually score a touchdown on a seven-yard run by LeSean McCoy. Bills kicker Dan Carpenter missed the follow-up extra point. The Jaguars led 7-6 at halftime.
Buffalo received the ball first after halftime and took advantage. On the first play of the series, McCoy ran 75 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The play was the longest of the game and put the Bills in front for the first time. Following an extra point, the Bills led 13-7 with 14:47 remaining in the third quarter.
The Jaguars offense also used the running game to start the second half. With Ivory out due to injury, Jacksonville ran the ball with Denard Robinson and Yeldon. Both players picked up first downs, guiding the offense downfield. Sterling and fellow tight end Ben Koyack also picked up first downs on the drive.
Bortles was able to lead the Jaguars into the redzone - and eventually - the end zone. Bortles hit wide receiver Marqise Lee for a 20-yard touchdown completion. The extra point was successful and put the Jaguars back in the lead, 14-13, with 9:26 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bills and the Jaguars then traded punts on the next two series. Taylor eventually hit Watkins for a 62-yard completion on the Bills' third offensive drive of the second half. The big play put the Bills in the redzone and Taylor eventually ran for a touchdown of his own. Following an extra point, the Bills led 20-13 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Bortles took control on the next drive, as he ran for two first downs and completed a big pass to Allen Robinson to get the offense in the redzone. Following the end of the third quarter, Bortles completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hurns. Following an extra point, the Jaguars led 21-20 with 14:52 remaining in the game.
The Bills came roaring back on the next drive. McCoy was able to pick up a first down on a catch after Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien whiffed on a tackle. The Bills then caught a break when Amukamara was called for pass interference after Gipson caught an interception. Taylor eventually hit wide receiver Justin Hunter for a leaping touchdown completion. Following a successful two-point conversion, the Bills led 28-21 with 10:46 remaining.
Buffalo eventually ran out the clock and won the game, 28-21
Jaguars Player of the Game
Defensive end Malik Jackson produced four tackles and two sacks on Sunday against the Bills.
Jaguars Play of the Game
The Jaguars scored the team's first opening drive touchdown in 24 games on a two-yard carry by running back Chris Ivory. The score stopped a league-high skid and put the Jaguars in the lead for the entire first half. Ivory picked up 30 yards on the opening drive, so the score capped his success to start the game.
The Jaguars entered the game without defensive tackle Abry Jones (ankle), defensive ends Jared Odrick (shoulder) and Chris Smith (eye), linebacker Dan Skuta (back) and tight end Julius Thomas (back) due to injury.
Wide receiver Rashad Greene suffered an Achilles injury early in the second quarter and did not return. Running back Chris Ivory left the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter. Wide receiver Allen Hurns suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter after scoring a touchdown. He returned on the next drive.
The Bills were without wide receiver Robert Woods (knee), safety Robert Blanton (foot) and running back Mike Gillislee (hamstring) due to injury.
Cornerback Ronald Darby was evaluated for a concussion in the first quarter. Wide receiver Walt Powell suffered a hamstring injury and did not return.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.