Bills lament missed opportunities in AFC wild-card loss
By JOE REEDY, Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Despite exceeding expectations by making the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, the Buffalo Bills lamented missed opportunities in their 10-3 loss to the Jaguars in an AFC wild-card game on Sunday.
“I wanted to win this game and get it rolling. I don’t care about the building blocks,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “I live now in the moment. We had this thing.”
Despite it being a road game, the Bills and their raucous fans were in full force inside EverBank Field and outside of the tailgate lots. There was even a picture of OJ Simpson wearing a McCoy jersey as he watched the game at a Las Vegas bar.
What they saw were problems that had plagued the Bills late in the season. They didn’t score a touchdown for the second time in six games and squandered a key red zone opportunity late in the second quarter.
Buffalo had first-and-goal at the Jaguars 1 with 2:53 remaining. Coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison elected to call a run-pass option instead of giving it to McCoy, who had eight touchdowns on the season.
Tyrod Taylor’s pass to Kelvin Benjamin on a fade route was incomplete in the end zone, but Benjamin was called for offensive pass interference, moving the ball back to the Jaguars 11.
The drive stalled from there and they had to settle for a Stephen Hauschka 31-yard field goal at the end of an 18-play, 71-yard drive that took 8:06.
“I came off the ball. All I did was try to come around and catch the ball and they called pushing,” Benjamin said. “You try to move on from it.”
McDermott said that they made the call because of the situation and that was one of a couple of plays they would like to have back. The field goal gave the Bills a 3-0 lead but the Jaguars tied it with 4 seconds remaining in the first half.
McCoy appeared to second-guess the call a little bit after the game.
“I want a running play. It was a play I was lobbying for the whole time and it didn’t work out so I understand,” he said.
The closest the Bills got in the second half was the Jaguars 38 late in the fourth quarter. That came when Nathan Peterman came in after Taylor was injured with 1:27 remaining when his head hit the turf after being tackled by Dante Fowler. The drive ended when Peterman was intercepted by Jalen Ramsey with 32 seconds left.
McDermott said after the game that Taylor, who was 17 of 37 for 134 yards with an interception, was in the concussion protocol.
“We had a long field on most of our drives. We got some chunk plays at times, but we couldn’t convert on third down,” center Eric Wood said.
The Bills converted three of six third downs in the first quarter, but were 4 of 12 the rest of the game.
McCoy, who was listed as questionable after spraining his ankle in last week’s victory at Miami, ended up having 75 yards on 19 carries in what he said was a solid game.
“I wasn’t 100 percent. I think the cuts and runs I did were probably made,” he said. “It’s not the reason we lost. We just didn’t play well.”
One thing that did surprise McCoy was how many fans came down for the game despite having less than a week to make travel plans.
“I was surprised. Coming from Philadelphia the fans travel everywhere,” he said. “I think Buffalo fans have them beat. I’m extremely disappointed to let them down. They travel so far and rally behind us. Sorry we couldn’t get the win for them.”
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