Third and 9, ball at the Tampa Bay 32-yard line, 2 minutes remaining and the Buffalo Bills dial up a play for … Taiwan Jones?
Yep, that happened Sunday. And guess what? It worked.
Jones, the Bills’ third-string running back who hadn’t touched the ball offensively in the team’s first five games, took a shovel pass from Tyrod Taylor toward the left sideline, cut back inside and gained 11 yards for a critical first down. That allowed the Bills to bleed more time off the clock before Stephen Hauschka’s 30-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining provided the winning points in a 30-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Era Field.
“It was a long time coming,” said Jones, who came to the Bills early in training camp after being released by the Oakland Raiders. “We worked on it all week, and I was just patiently waiting for it. I definitely appreciate coach for calling it.”
Jones has mostly been a special teams contributor with the Bills, but has impressed his teammates in a practice setting.
“He’s our hidden gem,” fullback Patrick DiMarco said. “He came to us late during camp. He's adapting to the offense, and he knows it now. He's a playmaker. Get the ball in his hands. … When he touches the ball, you hold your breath.”
Listening nearby, fellow running back Mike Tolbert chimed in: “He’s fast as the dickens!”
Jones’ last catch in a game came against the Bills for the Raiders in December 2016.
“It feels good. As a player, you feel like every time you touch the ball you can score,” he said. “Coach called the play, and gave me the opportunity to show what I can do.”
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor said the only instruction to Jones in the huddle was to stay inbounds.
“I think his notion of cutting it up was more so him not getting forced outside where he couldn’t stay inbounds,” Taylor said. “So he was able to cut up and get a first down. That was definitely key in the drive.”
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Tight end Logan Thomas made his first career touchdown catch in the third quarter, a 22-yarder from Taylor that put the Bills ahead, 17-6, after Stephen Hauschka’s extra point.
“I’m very thankful, very blessed,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to fill in and do my job. It feels great, but most importantly it feels good to get a win. If it would have been done with a loss, it wouldn’t feel as good.”
Along with Nick O’Leary, the Bills got three catches for 80 yards and the touchdown from their tight ends playing in the first game without starter Charles Clay, who suffered a knee injury in Week Five against the Bengals.
“I don’t think anybody blinked an eye when Charles went down,” Thomas said. “That’s just a testament to who we are as a team. We’re a resilient team. … Me and Nick played the game we are supposed to.”
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Safety Jordan Poyer suffered a right knee injury on the game's final play when he got rolled up on by Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith.
"We're going to take another look and see," McDermott said when asked about the severity of the injury. "It's still too early right now. Those are unfortunate."
The play on which Poyer was hurt on included eight laterals by the Bucs.
"It'd be nice if there was a time clock on those plays just to, you know, after a certain time you've got to call the play dead," McDermott said. "That would've been helpful."
Poyer's fiance, Rachel Bush, tweeted after the game: "Jordan is good guys!"
Cornerback E.J. Gaines was knocked out of the game in the third quarter when he suffered a hamstring injury. McDermott did not provide an update on his status after the game.
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The right guard competition appears to be over. Vlad Ducasse started Sunday, while John Miller was inactive for the second straight game. Also inactive for the Bills were: Clay, linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb), wide receiver Kaelin Clay, defensive tackle Cedric Thornton and offensive tackles Conor McDermott and Seantrel Henderson.