By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire
JACKSONVILLE – This was the kind of Jaguars ‘ game we have been watching for all season.
The Jags hit on all three phases of their game Sunday afternoon in London in their 25-20 victory over a Bills’ team that looked like they were suffering from jet lag throughout most of the first three quarters.
After the Jags’ victory over Atlanta in their first of two games in Big Ben’s town, there were still plenty of skeptics who didn’t think they could battle the Bills.
But, maybe …just maybe..this was a sign of the run we all expected from them this season.Remember the high expectations in the spring? They are back in focus.
Two impressive victories in London, and the anticipated season is back on its track. Jacksonville’s 10 overall games across the pond have improved their profile. Cheerio!
With this win, the Jags should have silenced their critics. Like Trevor Lawrence said afterwards, “we are a good team, and we needed to beat a good one.”
During the NFL Network broadcast, the crew of Rich Eisen and Curt Warner seemingly were waiting for the Bills to mount a comeback and win the game. You could sense it in their deliveries, and how could the Jags beat a team that averaged 41 points in their last three games?
They did, and they did it in the fashion that good teams do it. They didn’t cave after the Bills began to take over the game’s momentum.
Lawrence lost a pair of fumbles, one that was deemed crucial at the time, but the Jags’ defense responded. Their bend-but-not break output was more effective against the Bills. Darius Williams’ pick six provided some evidence. If you can hold the Bills under 400 yards of total offense (388), you are doing something right.
Then there was Travis Etienne, who was turned into the team’s workhorse with 136 yards on 26 carries, one being a key 35-year touchdown scamper that sealed the game. Etienne looks like he can be an every-down back.
Still, there are some blemishes that have to be cleared. You can start with Lawrence’s five sacks. Cam Robinso came back at left tackle after his four-game suspension, and he looked solid allowing just one pressure. The defensive secondary has been better, but it still needs to be a bit tighter.
However, Lawrence had his best game of the season and one of the best overall with his 25-for-37, 315-yard performance. One drawback is that he has five touchdown passes and two interceptions. A good sign, though, ws their 10-for-18 showing on third-down conversions, a situation that has troubled them all season. The offense overall hasn’t been consistent, but it has shown signs of it.
So, now the Jags find themselves with a chance to pick up two wins in their next three games, having Indianapolis in town Sunday for a rematch from their 31-21 opening win, and travel dates at New Orleans and Pittsburgh.
Indianapolis isn’t a pushover, and the Colts have played better. There also is the Gardner Minshew factor, as the former beloved hometown hero likely will be at the controls for sidelined top pick Anthony Richardson.
In fact, this shapes up as a battle for the lead in the AFC South, as both teams have 3-2 records.The Jags can take the proverbial big leg up here, having two wins over the Colts when it comes to the division status. Tennessee looked like they were back to normal with their 27-3 win over the Bengals, but they lost to the Colts, 23-16 last week.
When you look at everything as a whole, head coach Doug Pederson has shown he is the right man for the job. Pederson quickly righted the ship when they steered into rough waters, and he can navigate them back to a division title.
Now, it’s up to the Jags to win another game they should at EverBank Stadium. They can’t afford another disaster like the Houston game, even though the Texans are an improved team.
Jacksonville has silenced their critics, and it’s time for the next step.
(Columnist Jeff Moeller writes for SportsDay and the Florida Sports Wire)
(Photo by Ben Green/Buffalo Bills)