Bills hampered by defensive injuries, slow offensive start in first half vs. Jaguars

LONDON — The Buffalo Bills’ biggest vulnerability entering Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the loss of top cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Christian Benford.

Midway through the first quarter at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, however, the Bills also lost All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who led them in pressures four weeks into the season.

Milano, who already had made three tackles with the game just 7:16 old, was declared done with a knee injury. Jones was deemed questionable to return with a pectoral injury.

Buffalo also temporarily lost two other defensive ends in the first quarter. Play stopped with starter Leonard Floyd and backup Kingsley Jonathan going down. Each returned eventually, but Floyd hobbled off the field again near the end of the half.

Jacksonville took advantage with consecutive nine-play scoring drives to take a quick 11-0 lead. Buffalo finally responded 74 seconds before halftime to make it 11-7 and got bullied for most of the ensuing drive before edge rusher A.J. Epenesa recorded a strip-sack and recovery at Buffalo’s 23-yard line.

With the Bills’ defense reeling, quarterback Trevor Lawrence spotted wide receiver Zay Jones in the end zone from 6 yards out less than a minute after Milano got hurt. Running back Travis Etienne Jr. tacked on the two-point conversion, defensive tackle Ed Oliver’s roughing-the-passer penalty making point-blank range too tempting for coach Doug Pederson to pass up. Brandon McManus kicked a 44-yard field goal with 1:13 left in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, after each offense had three possessions, Jacksonville led 21-12 in plays, 8-1 in first downs, 137-35 in yards and 10:26-5:26 in time of possession.

The Bills did get Von Miller back, activating him from the physically unable to perform list Sunday morning, but as of halftime had played only in obvious pass-rushing situations. Miller’s only first-half stat was an assisted tackle.

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(Photo of Milano: Peter Nicholls / Getty Images)

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