Brawl sparks turning point in Bills win over Jags

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Who says there can’t be fireworks in a game between two 3-7 teams?

After the Bills gave up a 14-point lead to the Jaguars, Jacksonville seemed poised to snatch its first lead of the game late in the third quarter.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles connected with wide receiver Donte Moncrief near the Bills goalline. Battling with Moncrief as he made the catch was Bills defensive back Levi Wallace. While the two grappled over the football, Bills safety Micah Hyde walked over to the skirmish and was shoved by Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook.

Several more players began shoving, and the brawl was on.

“Tensions were high,” said Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “They’re very chirpy. We’re not going to back down, it’s a physical game. Those type of things happen when you’re playing football.”

Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was chirping with Bills players all game long. Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson was particularly targeted. With Hyde and Westbrook shoving each other, Lawson and Fournette decided to throw punches.

“I’m glad the players supported one another,” said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. “I never want to see a fight break out like that. I don’t think it’s good for our game.”

Lawson and Fournette were ejected from the game. The play that proceeded the brawl resulted in a 1st and Goal for the Jaguars at the Bills 1-yard line.

The Bills defense drove backup running back Carlos Hyde back one yard on 1st and Goal. The Jags committed a false start penalty before an offensive holding call brought them back even farther to the Bills’ 17-yard line. Bortles was nearly sacked but was able to gain one yard on 2nd and Goal, and on 3rd and Goal was sacked for a loss of 8 yards.

“That was a huge moment for our defense in the season,” said safety Jordan Poyer. “Not just in that moment but in the season, in giving us the confidence to know that we can.”

With the crowd in a frenzy after the goalline stand, Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, keeping the score 14-14.

“Our fans did a fantastic job,” said Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes. “They brought a lot of noise, a lot of energy today. We just tried to do our best and give them a great Sunday.”

The Bills quickly marched down the field after the Jags failed attempt. Josh Allen connected on a pass to Isaiah McKenzie to the Buffalo 37-yard line that included a face mask penalty on Jags defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Allen ended the third quarter with a dart over the middle to Robert Foster, who was also on the receiving end of a Jaguars penalty. Barry Church drilled Foster while attempting to make the catch and was given a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

Allen opened the fourth quarter with a 14-yard touchdown run up the middle that gave the Bills the lead for good, before winning 24-21. 

The Bills are still a distant longshot to make the playoffs at 4-7, but they believe there is much to gain over the final five weeks of the season.

“We can’t go back and redo what we did in September and October,” said defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “But with the young guys we have that continue to work, we will continue to rise, and get better.”

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