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Garrard, not Losman, finds winning solution

Sunday's football game in Jacksonville was all about answers.

The Buffalo Bills did not want to let the Jacksonville Jaguars' power running game beat them.

The Jaguars did not want to let the Bills' fastest receivers, Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish, beat them downfield.

Which offense could come up with another answer to score points? The answer was Jacksonville, without any doubt, in a 36-14 decision.

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard passed for 296 yards and a touchdown and made no turnovers.

Bills quarterback J.P. Losman threw for 211 with two interceptions and a fumble.

The outcome probably signals an end to Losman's stint as the Bills' starting quarterback. It was his third straight unproductive outing. Losman said during the week he thought he was on a short leash. And the Bills have shown by their actions this year they are enamored with the potential of Trent Edwards.

"I could have played better," Losman said. "I could have done some things to help our team win this ball game. I put us into a bad situation with the turnovers. Any time you have three turnovers on offense, it's not going to be any good."

A crowd of about 50,000 in a Jacksonville Municipal Stadium that had lots of empty seats saw the Jaguars improve to 8-3. The loss put the Bills (5-6) in a win-out situation to have any hope of a playoff spot.

It was the last of his three turnovers that bugged Losman the most.

Thanks to good red-zone defense, the Bills managed to stay in the game, despite being outgained over the first three quarters, 317-152.

The Bills were trailing, 22-14, with eight minutes to go and were on a 50-yard march that took them to Jacksonville's 33.

On a second-down play, Losman dropped back and had good protection. The outside receivers, Evans and Parrish, ran deep. Losman locked onto Josh Reed over the middle, and Jaguars linebacker Justin Durant picked off his pass at the 25-yard line to extinguish the Bills' threat.

"Obviously I wish I could have that play back," Losman said. "It's just inexcusable. I've got to see that Will [the weak-side linebacker]. I was trying to get the ball down the field on that play. I think [in retrospect] we actually had it. I thought I had Josh open but I just didn't see the Will [Durant]."

"They were in Cover 2," Reed said of the Jaguars' two-deep zone. "The outside routes were good routes against it. There were three guys in there in the middle. I'm sure he'd like to have it back. I think I might have made a better play as far as breaking it up. But we have to eliminate things like that."

The Jaguars sat back in zone defense most of the day. With their best cornerback, Rashean Mathis, out with an injury, they were not going to risk playing man to man against the Bills. And with Bills back Marshawn Lynch out with an injury, they did not need to bring an eighth man up to stop the run.

The way to beat the Cover 2 is to run the ball and hit short passes, executing long drives to the end zone. Another good way is to hit the tight end over the middle against the zone.

The Bills have not been good at sustaining long drives this year, and their tight ends have not made many big plays.

"They did a good job of making you check down all day," Losman said. "You had to continue to be patient and patient and patient. . . . You knew going into this game they were going to play Cover 6, Cover 2 and just take it away deep all day."

In a Cover 6 defense, one safety covers a deep half of the field and two other defensive backs take a deep quarter on the other side of the field.

"We wanted to make sure we kept Lee Evans in front of us," said Jags coach Jack Del Rio. "We did that all day."

The Bills managed only three touchdown drives of 10 plays or more the first 10 games this season. So when Losman marched the team 72 yards in 10 plays in the second quarter to a TD that pulled them within 13-7, it was a landmark occasion.

The Bills had a chance to get more points in the first half after defensive end Aaron Schobel stuffed the Jaguars on a fourth-and-1 running play from the Bills' 41.

But on a third-and-1 run from the Jaguars' 44, Losman fumbled the ball trying to bull forward in a pile.

"Even if you think you're down, you have to hold onto the ball as much as possible," Losman said. "It was a fight down there. Again, inexcusable. You've got to hold onto the football."

Evans was held to just two catches, and both came on the final garbage-time drive.

Losman's first pickoff came on a throw for Evans early in the second quarter. Jaguars safety Sammy Knight read Losman's eyes looking for Evans and picked the throw over the middle. That turnover set up a Jaguars field goal that put them ahead, 13-0.

Losman said he considered that more a great defensive play than a bad decision.

"It was the back-side safety who actually picked that ball off," Losman said. "He showed Cover 6, which is quarter-quarter-half. So you work your weak side. . . . He came all the way over from the strong side and picked the ball off. It was a good play."

Garrard, meanwhile, showed he can hurt teams determined to shut down running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars had run on 53 percent of their plays this year. But on Sunday, Garrard dropped back 39 times and handed off only 25.

After Losman's second pickoff, Garrard iced the game with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Williams with 2:39 left. The Bills were in a zone defense, and safety George Wilson did not get quite deep enough to make the tackle after Garrard's perfect strike on a slant route.

Both Losman and coach Dick Jauron brushed aside questions about the prospect of a quarterback change.

"We'll look at the tape on everybody and see how it looks," Jauron said.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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