The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Buffalo Bills 10-3 on Sunday to win their first playoff game in a decade.
The real hero of the game: Jacksonville’s fearsome defense.
The hero of the game we’re going to celebrate instead: Blake Bortles and his rarely-before-seen rushing ability.
Bortles, the Jaguars’ much-maligned quarterback, passed for only 87 yards on 23 attempts Sunday, overthrowing even basic screen passes. But the four-year veteran helped win the game with his legs, running for a game-high and career-high 89 yards and picking up several key first downs. Per CBS, he became the fourth quarterback since 1950 to win a playoff game with more rushing yards than passing yards.
Not only did Bortles rack up yardage on the ground, he did so at highly opportune times. With less than a minute to play in the first half and Jacksonville down 3-0, he scrambled for a 20-yard gain to drag the Jags into opposing territory, then ran for 12 more to advance them into more comfortable field-goal range. Jacksonville wound up tying the game before halftime.
— NFL (@NFL) January 7, 2018
On the Jaguars’ third-quarter touchdown drive, Bortles rushed for 20 yards on three carries before throwing for a score to give his team the lead.
And in the fourth quarter, with Jacksonville deep in its own territory, Bortles picked up a dropped snap and dashed 26 yards. Though the Jaguars wound up punting on the drive, the quarterback’s scramble helped greatly from a field-position standpoint, and the Bills twice failed to muster a game-tying touchdown drive.
— Dan Worthington (@danWorthington) January 7, 2018
It’s not as if Bortles is known for his scrambling. He rushed for 323 yards on the season, which ranked a modest seventh among quarterbacks, and only once all year did he gain more than 40 yards on the ground. But on a day when his arm betrayed him over and over again, his legs saved the day.
When Jaguars fans look back on one of the most exciting victories in franchise history, they’ll remember Calais Campbell’s big hits, Jalen Ramsey’s stout coverage and Leonard Fournette’s bruising running. But more than anything, they’ll probably remember Blake Bortles’ sudden transformation into Michael Vick.