ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Byron Leftwich spent the first 58
minutes looking terrible, and the last two looking remarkable.
"I don't know how to put a measuring stick on it, but it's got
to do something," receiver Jimmy Smith said. "This is huge for
The transformation of Leftwich was impressive.
Before the winning drive, Leftwich had gone 11-of-23 for 75
yards, converted just two of 10 third-down attempts and threw two
interceptions. In the final 2:07, he went 7-of-13 for 72 yards, and
converted three fourth-down plays.
That included the touchdown, when the Jaguars faced
fourth-and-goal from the 7 with four seconds remaining. Leftwich
sent up a touch pass to the back of the end zone, where Wilford
out-muscled three Bills defenders and came down with the ball as he
fell out of bounds.
The play was reviewed, and the officials' ruling on the field
that Wilford was pushed out stood, stunning a soldout crowd that
had spent most of the game cheering on a strong defensive effort.
Leftwich chose Wilford because at 6-foot-4, he presents a tall
target and, as a former basketball player, possesses great leaping
"Anytime you're 6-foot-4, you're open," Leftwich said smiling.
Just as impressive was Leftwich hitting Smith up the left
sideline for a 45-yard reception when facing fourth-and-14. Smith
made the catch in one-on-one coverage by out-muscling cornerback
Nate Clements along the left sideline.
For Wilford, a fourth-round pick, it was his only reception of
the game. For Leftwich, it was his second fourth-quarter comeback
after he rallied the Jaguars back in last year's 28-23 win over
Indianapolis on Nov. 9.
The win snapped a nine-game road losing streak for the Jaguars
that dated back to a Dec. 15, 2002, win at Cincinnati.
The loss ruined coach Mike Mularkey's debut with Buffalo, and
the blame can squarely be placed on a Drew Bledsoe-led offense that
bumbled. Buffalo dominated the time of possession by more than
seven minutes and settled for 10 points despite three trips into
the red zone.
"I'm a little bit in shock," said Bledsoe. "I really felt we
were in control of the ballgame the whole way."
Bledsoe finished 17-for-26 for 153 yards.
So sure was Bledsoe that things were going to turn out well,
that he spent the past two weeks preparing how he was going to
present the game ball to Mularkey.
That's now on hold.
Defensive end Aaron Schobel deflected blame to the defense.
"If we're such a great defense, we got to stop them," Schobel
said. "You beat them all day like that ... maybe this will make us
stronger but, damn, this was our time to stop them."
The Jaguars win erased some of the troubling memories of last
season, in which six of their 11 losses were decided by seven
points or less.
"This is big," Leftwich said. "We went on the road and didn't
win a football game all year. And if we want to be successful, you
have to win games on the road."
Buffalo's Willis McGahee made his NFL debut after missing all of
his rookie season last year recovering from a severe left knee
injury. The former first-round pick played most of the fourth
quarter after Henry left the game complaining of cramps in his left
McGahee finished with 31 yards on nine carries and a catch for
Reese's interception was the first by a Bills safety in 43
games, going back to Buffalo's 13-10 win at Jacksonville on Oct.
18, 2001. ... Moulds' touchdown, which followed Clements'
interception, matched his total from last season, in which he was
limited for most of the year with a groin injury. ... Fred Taylor
led the Jaguars with 61 yards rushing and Smith had four catches
for 83 yards.
The NFL says it is close but still has yet to interview the four players named along with Peyton Manning in a report five months ago that linked them to PEDs.
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