The Buffalo Bills take a lot of pride in their special teams, but there was nothing to feel good about during Sunday's 36-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mistakes on punt and kickoff coverage directly led to 10 points by the Jaguars.
Buffalo stopped Jacksonville on its opening drive, but the Jaguars' drive continued when the Bills were penalized for having 12 men on the field on the punt. On the next play, running back Fred Taylor burst through a hole for a 50-yard touchdown run.
After Roscoe Parrish's 24-yard run cut their deficit to 19-14 in the third quarter, the Bills' kickoff coverage pinned Jaguars return man Maurice Jones-Drew at the 14-yard line. But Dwayne Wright was offside and Rian Lindell's re-kick bounced out of bounds, which gave the Jaguars the ball at their 45-yard line.
With a 31-yard improvement in field position, the Jaguars drove for a field goal to increase their lead to eight points.
"A couple of penalties really hurt us in that area," Bills coach Dick Jauron said in an obvious understatement. "To make a play and then to have to repeat it and have the field position change like that is never good."
The return game was nothing special either. The Jaguars justified their No. 1 NFL ranking in kickoff coverage, holding Bills return ace Terrence McGee to 18.3 yards on five returns. McGee came into the game averaging 25.8 yards.
The Jaguars allowed 16.9 yards per kick return in their previous 10 games and held the Bills to a 16.5-yard average on six returns.
"They are first in kickoff coverage for a reason," McGee said. "They do a good job of getting to the returner and getting a lot of guys around the ball. We go in trying to get a touchdown every week. But they showed up today and did a great job."
Parrish, who had an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown last year against Jacksonville, didn't get a chance to have the same impact Sunday. The Jaguars had just one punt, which Parrish returned for 12 yards.
Even punter Brian Moorman had an off day, averaging just 37.8 yards on four punts.
"You have to take your hat off to the Jaguars," Parrish said. "They have good special teams and it showed today."
> Injury bug hits hard
The Bills may have been dealt another serious injury. Starting defensive end Chris Kelsay left the game in the first half with a left ankle injury and didn't return.
It is not known how serious the injury is, but Kelsay left Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.
Kelsay's backup, Ryan Denney, departed near the end of the contest after aggravating his surgically repaired broken left foot that sidelined him for the first seven games. X-rays of the foot were negative, though Denney did have a slight limp in the locker room.
"The situation is different with this type of injury," Denney said. "The bone's not healed, but the screw is supposed to hold it in place. At the same time, there are some growing pains with that. I'm going to keep on pushing it and hopefully I'll be OK for next week."
Backup linebacker Coy Wire departed in the third quarter with a neck stinger. Starting right tackle Langston Walker also didn't finish the game because of an injured right elbow.
Jauron may update all the injuries when he meets the media today.
> Jackson springs into action
With running back Marshawn Lynch out again with a high ankle sprain, Fred Jackson got his most extensive playing time of the season. He responded by carrying five times for 18 yards and added five catches for 47 yards.
"It doesn't surprise me," Jauron said. "Fred's been given an opportunity to play in the real deal and he looks pretty much like he looked in preseason. And he looked good in preseason. That's good. It bodes well for us down the line. Unfortunately, we're not down the line."
Jackson made his presence felt on the Bills' first scoring drive, catching a 13-yard pass on second-and-13 and adding an 8-yard run. He also got the call on a critical fourth-and-1 situation in the third quarter and gained the yard for a first down. Parrish scored on a 24-yard run on the next play.
"It gives you confidence that the team has confidence in you to call your number in a situation like that," Jackson said of the fourth-down run. "I was definitely looking forward to the challenge and was able to make something happen for us."
The Bills also got a sizable contribution from Anthony Thomas, who started in place of Lynch. Thomas ran for 46 yards and led the team with a career-best eight catches for 45 yards and his first NFL TD reception.
"We wanted to be a 1-2 combo," Jackson said. "With Marshawn being out, we knew we had to pull together and carry some of the weight because he's an instrumental part of this offense. We tried to keep things rolling, but we couldn't get that big play."
Lynch, cornerback Jerametrius Butler, tight end Tim Massaquoi, offensive lineman Christian Gaddis, tight end Ryan Neufeld, defensive end Copeland Bryan and defensive tackle Jason Jefferson were inactive. . . . Parrish became the ninth Bills player to score a TD rushing, receiving and on returns in a career. He is the first receiver to run for a TD since Andre Reed had a 14-yard score Oct. 27, 1985.