Jaguars 13, Bills 10
Byron Leftwich felt an odd sense of confidence as he ran on the field for a potential game-winning drive on Sunday. The second-year quarterback was playing the worst game of his short career, but the thought of operating in three- and four-receiver sets made Leftwich feel like a prolific college passer again.
"It kind of felt like I was at Marshall," the Jacksonville quarterback said. The Jaguars were "out there with three or four wide receivers . . . sling it and run [and] just throwing the football around. I knew we were going to find a way to get down there."
Back in a comfort zone, Leftwich made the first 58 minutes of the game seem like a distant memory.
Rookie Ernest Wilford (Virginia Tech) grabbed Leftwich's floater in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown on the final play of the game as the Jaguars rallied to beat the Buffalo Bills, 13-10, before a sellout crowd of 72,389 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"Honestly, I'm a little bit in shock," Buffalo quarterback Drew Bledsoe said.
"I know [Leftwich is] anxious to have the explosive quality that we are all going to want for our offense," Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio said. "But right now, he's managing the game for us very well."
Leftwich, who started the game 1 of 7 passing for two yards, finished the game 18 of 36 for 147 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. The H.D. Woodson High graduate went 7 of 12 for 72 yards on the final drive. Jimmy Smith kept the possession going when he caught Leftwich's poorly thrown pass down the left sideline for a 45-yard gain on a fourth and 14.
Eight plays later, Wilford grabbed his first NFL reception despite three Buffalo defenders to give Jacksonville its first road win since Dec. 15, 2002. The Jaguars lost six games by seven points or less last season.
Buffalo appeared to have the game sealed late in the fourth quarter when running back Willis McGahee ran for a first down deep in Jacksonville territory. But a holding call nullified the run and forced the Bills to punt. The Jaguars took over with 2 minutes 7 seconds left and went 78 yards to win the game.
McGahee, playing his first regular season game since he tore three ligaments in his left knee while playing for Miami in the 2002 national championship game, played sparingly until Travis Henry suffered cramps and he took over for one drive. McGahee finished with 31 yards on nine carries. He also caught one pass for 12 yards when both players lined up in the backfield for one play.
"It was a good opportunity [for the] first game," McGahee said. "[I'm] testing the waters."