The Jacksonville Jaguars became the first team in NFL history to win an international game in back-to-back weeks with a 25-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Many expected in-form quarterback Josh Allen and his hosting Bills to have the upper hand in London, but the visitors were the superior side by almost every measure in the first quarter, where a costly Buffalo penalty led to the Jags’ first touchdown.
And though AFC East leaders Buffalo, looking for a fourth straight win, finally broke through and narrowed the deficit to 11-7 by the halfway point, a scoreless third quarter and a Travis Etienne touchdown extended the Jags’ advantage to double-digits early in the fourth quarter.
Two touchdowns per side in the final 15 minutes kept things interesting as Buffalo twice came within five points of drawing level, but the visitors, who last weekend beat the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley, ultimately did enough to stave off a Buffalo comeback.
The stands – including Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo – skewed overwhelmingly in favour of Buffalo, but it was the visitors who first sparked to life through QB Trevor Lawrence’s sharp 30-yard pass to wide receiver Christian Kirk.
Jacksonville soon took full advantage after Buffalo’s Ed Oliver was punished with a five-yard penalty and Lawrence fired into the endzone, where a leaping Zay Jones completed the six-yard touchdown, Etienne successfully converting for two more.
Brandon McManus’ 44-yard field goal gave his side an 11-0 lead before the second quarter, where Buffalo pressed on in search of a solution to a Jags defence that, five minutes into the period, had held the hosts to just 35 yards on offence to their 167.
Buffalo finally broke through just before half-time, closing that gap with a 12-play, 86-yard drive ending in Stefon Diggs’ classy 15-yard touchdown reception to collect the pass from his QB with Tyler Bass booting the extra point through the uprights.
That drive alone was 32 yards longer than their first four combined and launched the hosts squarely back into the contest.
A promising third-quarter drive began with a promising 48-yard pass cleverly claimed by Diggs, but the hosts ultimately failed to capitalise on the gained ground.
Buffalo were down to the final 15 minutes after the scoreless third quarter and found themselves frustrated early in the fourth by a brilliant interception by Jags cornerback Darious Williams on Allen’s ball intended for Diggs.
Jacksonville extended their lead to double digits through Etienne, who crossed over from six yards, McManus good for the extra point.
With just over four minutes remaining, the Bills saw a touchdown nullified by a penalty but made good on the second attempt when Allen found Davis for the 19-yard touchdown to make it 18-13, Buffalo failing to convert the extras.
The final few minutes of an afternoon dominated by defence suddenly saw an offensive surge as Etienne crossed for another TD, McManus adding another extra point, but Jacksonville barely had time to celebrate before Allen had crossed into the endzone and Bass’ conversion clawed Buffalo back within five.
The frantic, entertaining close was at least enough to stir the Buffalo faithful, who came just short of seeing their side brilliantly bounce back.