JACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles rushed for a game-high 88 yards and threw a fourth and one touchdown pass to lead the Jags to a 10-3 wild card playoff win over the Buffalo Bills in the first playoff game in 10 years at Everbank Field.
“I kind of reference it to a pitcher who is not quite on; can’t hit the fastball or curveball, but has to find some way to win,” said Bortles, in a post game interview. “I was fortunate to be able to run around out there and have an option B.”
Jacksonville (11-6) will next travel to Pittsburgh (13-3) to take on the Steelers for the AFC Division championship. Pittsburgh had a bye week. Jacksonville beat Pittsburgh 30-9 earlier in the season with the Jags secondary intercepting Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times.
After a hard-fought 3-3 tie at the halftime break, the Jaguars remained stellar on defense in front of the sellout Everbank Field crowd with defensive back Aaron Colvin intercepting Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the third quarter and Jalen Ramsey picking off Bills backup quarterback Nathan Peterman with a tip and catch spectacular with 32 seconds left in the game that sealed the game for the Jaguars.
“The energy in the stadium was outstanding; better than what coach Tom Coughlin said it would be,” said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “Colvin woke up with a little flu bug, but he toughed it out out there.”
Ramsey snagged his interception in front of Bills wide receiver Deonte Thompson with a tip up and diving catch that ignited the Everbank crowd.
“Peterman (Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman) threw the same hitch pass on the other side a couple of plays before and I recognized the same formation on my side,” said Ramsey. “I figured they were running the same route. I took a read step and jumped the route.”
In the third period, Bortles moved the Jaguars inside the Bills Red Zone, but a stop by the Bills defense on a third down diving effort from Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette seemed destined to stall the drive, but Bortles came back and slinged a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to tight end Ben Koyack to push the edge to 10-3 with a minute left in the third period.
“We didn’t convert on the first turnover and I was thinking that would come back to haunt us and we need to either score or keep them bottled up down there,” said Marrone. “It’s not a beauty contest out there. We just played to win.”