For the Buffalo Bills, it began as a day of satisfaction and high expectations.
Being back in the playoff for the first time since 1999, there was the sense of satisfaction just being there.
Once the game started, however, expectations morphed into frustration.
The Bills had their plenty opportunities, but they capitalize. They held Jacksonville to 10 points, a team that was favored by almost as many.
This was strictly on the offense, not the defense.
The Bills’ defense forced Jacksonville into six punts in their first seven possessions and held them to three of their 10 points at halftime. They held them to 230 overall yards.
But the Bills couldn’t contain Blake Bortles, who won the game with his legs not his arm.
Bortles’ scrambles that accounted for 88 yards — one more than his 87 yards passing – proved to be the difference.
His touchdown flip to the back on the end zone at the end of the third quarter typified how the onus continued to be on the Bills’ offense.
The Bills’ 263 yards weren’t enough.
“We could have won this game,” said LeSean McCoy, who ran for 75 yards and caught six passes for 44 yards on a bad ankle. “We made it here. But I live in the moment and we should have won.”
McCoy is right.
The Bills wasted an opportunity in the second quarter when Kelvin Benjamin was flagged for offensive pass interference, moving the ball from the Jacksonville 1 back to the 11.
A sure seven points turned into three.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor had trouble his receivers deep all afternoon and he also was the victim of several drops. He had trouble finding his favorite target, Charles Clay, who caught just three balls for 15 yards.
As a result, Taylor completed only 17 of 37 attempts for 134 yards. Undeservingly, he was forced to leave the game on their final drive when he took a hit to the head.
Rookie backup quarterback Nathan Peterman clearly wasn’t in sync, getting called for intentional grounding and throwing a game-ending interception.
The Bills left Jacksonville with a 10-3 defeat, and the promise suddenly turned to despair.
Buffalo media outlets called for the ouster of Taylor, and maybe find a new savior in the draft. His overall numbers don’t look that bad, but he only averaged 176 yards passing per game, 31st in the league.
Taylor — once a hot rumor to be sent to the Jets — completed his third season as a starter.
The question to be answered is did he play a big part of his team getting to the playoffs or did he just play his role? He only threw four interceptions this year and had 16 in three years. However, Taylor lost 17 fumbles in three years.
Buffalo can look to move up in the draft to join the already frenzied state of teams looking to land one of the young messiahs. They have the Chiefs’ top pick and three more in the first two rounds.
They also will have their share of veterans to resign.
A day of reckoning may come.
Until then, Buffalo fans, simply enjoy the moment of simply getting there.
Your team was part of the elite 12. First-year head coach Sean McDermott will bring this team back on the same route.
It’s more than the two New York teams to the South can currently muster.