LONDON, England (WIVB) — Traveling to London loosened the screws in the Buffalo Bills offense, and that problem manifested as the Bills allowed four touchdowns in the span of minutes in the first half.
The Bills would recover from being down early, igniting playmakers despite injuries and recovering from errors, however it would not be enough to overcome the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Manuel had his fair share of issues in the loss, including turning the ball over three times, letting the Jaguars score each time, twice defensively, once offensively, putting the Buffalo Bills down 27 points in the second quarter.
One of the three turnovers couldn’t be completely blamed on Manuel, due to poor blocking, however with two interceptions, Manuel’s passing was called into question.
Manuel’s answered in a strong fashion, leading his team to two touchdowns and leading three drives that would net nine points in field goals.
It fell to the defense to make up the difference, but the difference was too great, especially after LeSean McCoy fumbled and lost what could have been a touchdown run in London’s Wembley Stadium.
The Buffalo Bills defense breathed life into the game behind Corey Graham when he nabbed an interception off Blake Bortles, scoring a pick-six.
Graham’s fourth quarter score put the Bills up by four points until Jacksonville returned fire, marching down the field and scoring a much needed touchdown for the Jacksonville offense that failed to score after the second quarter. Bortles and his efforts put the Jaguars up 34 to 31.
With just over two minutes left on the clock, Buffalo’s offense needed to score three points to tie the game, and they failed to answer.
Buffalo’s defense isn’t to blame for the loss — staunch defense, including two crucial stands where defenders denied the Jaguars offense a yard kept a touchdown off the board and returned the Ball to the Bills offense.
The fault falls more squarely on missed opportunities and penalties, including a penalty on the man who placed Buffalo back in the driver’s seat of the game, helping to engineer the comeback — Corey Graham. His excessive celebration call helped out the Jacksonville offense on their game-winnning drive, along with a penalty on Nickell Robey that bailed out Bortles on a third and long situation near midfield.
Robey’s penalty allowed Bortles to extend his drive and enter the end zone, however some questioned the call after the game. Called for pass interference, Robey and the Jacksonville receiver both attempted to make plays on the ball, a legal move on each side.
Questionable coaching calls — for the third game in a row — also hampered the Bills. Head Coach Rex Ryan and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman helped squander a potentially game winning drive just yards from field goal range. From a second down with one yard to go, the Bills would be denied two times, bringing up a fourth and one situation. With LeSean McCoy in the backfield, the play called for Manuel to roll out and throw to his left.
Manuel’s pass would be deflected, allowing the Jaguars to take over and run off the clock in victory formation.
Having fallen to three wins and four losses on what looked like it would be the end of a 16-year playoff drought, the Buffalo Bills have several challenges to look forward to. If the Bills can recover from their injuries — which total 14 significant casualties on the season — they will face off in two weeks against the New York Jets.
Playing a division opponent could energize the Bills, and a win could help their position within the AFC East division, although the undefeated New England Patriots are squarely in the lead.