Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott would welcome a return trip to London despite admitting his side seemed sluggish in their 25-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Buffalo, led by quarterback Josh Allen and seeking their fourth straight victory, entered Sunday afternoon’s contest on a high after beating the Miami Dolphins but found themselves up against an 11-0 deficit after the first quarter.
Though the ‘host’ Bills, who enjoyed the majority support of a raucous 61,273-strong crowd, twice found themselves a touchdown away from staging a fourth-quarter comeback it was the Jags – coming off last weekend’s 23-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley and perhaps better-adjusted to the time zone – who ultimately held on.
Asked if Buffalo, who only arrived in London on Friday, might have been affected by the travel, McDermott said: “We’ll see if, whatever comes up down the road in terms of us coming back here, but we need to evaluate everything because I didn’t feel like our energy was good enough early in the game.
“They had better energy than we did. We’re going to fly back tonight, watch the film on the way home and learn from this and we’ve got to get ourselves back where we need to be fundamentally. It’s just talking about throwing and catching, tackling, right?
“Most of the things that are at the forefront of some of the reasons why we got the result we did today.
“We would absolutely [come back]. We enjoyed just the opportunity to be over here. It’s an honour to be selected to play here and we’re certainly appreciative of our hosts in London.”
While Buffalo had not played in the UK since 2015, Jacksonville have contested at least one match in the British capital every year since 2013 save 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic prevented international matches.
The Jags certainly looked the sprightlier side in the first quarter and Trevor Lawrence the more effective quarterback, Zay Jones completing the first touchdown and Travis Etienne, who would later make two TDs of his own, adding the two-point conversion.
Buffalo, who lost key linebacker Matt Milano to a knee injury in the first quarter, rallied late in the second to make it 11-7 at the halfway point and a scoreless third quarter ensured it was all to play for in the final 15 minutes.
A game largely dominated by defence broke open, both sides adding two touchdowns apiece – the Jags’ from Etienne, while Allen and Gabe Davis added to Buffalo’s score.
Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who collected from Allen for Buffalo’s second-quarter, 15-yard touchdown, refused to blame the cross-continental trip for the result.
He said: “It’s easy to say that after the game. If we’d won would we be saying yeah, we were tired, we were this, we were that.
“It’s easy to use that as an excuse. I’m not a big excuse guy so I won’t say it, but you’re going to have to ask the other guys.
“Tired or not, you’re going to have to get up to play a football game. You get up to do this thing that you love and play this game because it’s a blessing.
“I will never use the excuse of, you can obviously look at the data or whatever, but I feel like we can play better. We will be better.”