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Jaguars finally see steady progress pay off with upset win over Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) is sacked by the Jacksonville Jaguars defense during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Slow and steady improvement. Urban Meyer has seen it. He’s preached it.

The Jaguars just hadn’t seen those results translate into victories.

But beating the Bills 9-6 on Sunday gave Meyer and the Jaguars tangible proof that things are slowly coming together. Jacksonville may be 2-6, but it provided what could have been the upset of the season in the NFL. The Bills played in the AFC championship game last season and were two-touchdown favorites over the Jaguars.

Can Jacksonville build on that win? It couldn’t last time. But with a trip to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Sunday, there’s momentum building for more progress.

“I think our guys are anxious to get out there Wednesday. We adapted our schedule a little bit,” Meyer said. “They felt fresh and you know obviously this is an in-division game. So, we had our team meeting, they’re excited, ready to go. Try to stack a win.”

Meyer said that Jacksonville wasn’t overconfident after its streak-breaking win over the Dolphins in London and won’t allow a win over a far better opponent account for any overconfidence either.

“I know exactly where we’re at. I love the momentum. You look at the momentum since I believe the Cardinals [game],” he said. “It was just a steady improvement, steady improvement and then all sudden we had that one bad one [against Seattle].”

The bad one against the Seahawks, a listless 31-7 loss in Week 8, was a rough game all the way around. But the Jaguars did show shades of improvement defensively in the second half of that game, something Meyer stressed in wake of that loss.

Against MVP candidate Josh Allen and the Bills, the Jaguars put four quarters of excellent defensive football together for the first time this season.

Jacksonville’s defense was superb against Buffalo. The Bills entered with the NFL’s highest-scoring offense yet mustered just two field goals. Linebacker Josh Allen had the best game of his career, finishing with eight tackles, a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery. The Jaguars had three takeaways after forcing just two in their previous seven games combined.

Even disappointing former first-round draft pick Taven Bryan was excellent on Sunday, evidence of just how well the defense as a whole played. Bryan had two sacks against the Bills. In 54 career games before that, Bryan, the 29th overall pick in 2018, had just 3.5 sacks.

The Jaguars didn’t do much against Buffalo’s vaunted defense but didn’t need much with how their defense played. Matthew Wright’s three field goals were responsible for Jacksonville’s points.

Jacksonville’s offense was average against Buffalo. It was without running back James Robinson with a heel bruise, but Carlos Hyde was serviceable in his place. It also dodged a scare when quarterback Trevor Lawrence fell to the ground awkwardly with an ankle sprain and headed for the locker room for X-rays.

He returned minutes later and played the rest of the game.

Meyer said that he didn’t expect Lawrence’s low ankle sprain to cause him to miss any time.

“I think knowing Trevor he’ll be ready to go on Wednesday,” he said. “Like I said, I expect him to go. I think we’ll be smart with him, but I think it’d be full speed, sooner than we think.”

Meyer said that he was impressed with the performance of rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell, who has struggled at times this season.

“Tyson was really good. And he’s healthy. And now you look in his eyes, he’s back to being Tyson. He was gone for a few weeks. ... JaMarr Chase got him a little bit,” Meyer said. “Lost a little bit of confidence. And then he had that toe injury and he didn’t look the same as Tyson. He’s doing great right now very confident. And he played really well.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.