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Bortles' gutsy performance helps Jags gain momentum

LONDON -- In the absence of perfection, there are certain ways to digest and analyze a win like the 2-5 Jacksonville Jaguars had on Sunday against the Bills at Wembley Arena.

They were up 27-3 and ended up winning 34-31. Buffalo was previously 0-30 when trailing by 24 points or more and, without the services of their starting quarterback and two best wide receivers, they took a lead late in the fourth quarter. That is one way to look at it.

But after Jaguars defensive back Aaron Colvin -- a 2014 fourth round pick -- swatted E.J. Manuel's pass to the turf on fourth down with 57 seconds left to play, the Jaguars' sideline erupted along with a large portion of converted Jacksonville fans at the stadium. The roster, comprised largely of affable young players no more than 24 years old, didn't know any better. They celebrated and jumped in the air for chest bumps. They joked in the locker room and danced on camera for British television.

And maybe getting a win that way meant something. Learning to win, as banal is it sounds, is not easy for a group of kids trying to figure out it together. And learning to win in the fourth quarter on a game-winning drive executed by your franchise quarterback can turn a season around.

"There's positives and negatives to it, but it's nice to see this gutsy young group come together and win a close game," wideout Bryan Walters said. "At the same time it'd be nice to step on the gas and learn to win that way, too. But there are positives any way you look at it."

Added running back T.J. Yeldon, who had a career high 20 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown: "It was a good game because it was a tough game. It'll help us in the future if we're down and need to score a touchdown -- something where we came together at the right time. We always have situations in practice where we work the two-minute drill, but this time it was something we had to do in the game."

When pressed for a tangible example, players in the locker room brought up the fact that Blake Bortles -- reeling from arguably his worst statistical game since the season-opener in Carolina -- had to gut out a game-winning drive with only manufactured confidence.

Before the drive he had thrown a pick-six and misfired on a few other throws. The game-winning play call resulted in a 31-yard touchdown pass, but Bortles was forced to roll left and throw across his body on the move. Along with Dan Marino and Matt Stafford, he's one of the only quarterbacks in NFL history under 23 to throw 15 touchdowns in just seven games.

As one Jags veteran said: "That took balls."

There are times when not knowing any better really is better, and at the moment the Jaguars can enjoy a celebratory flight home and a bye week. They can watch the film and correct the mistakes, but they can also create muscle memory from this moment.

For the real dreamers, consider the fact that the disappointing Colts play the Panthers, Broncos and Falcons in four weeks. The Jaguars come back with the Jets, Ravens and Titans. They still have another game against the increasingly hapless Texans and both games against Tennessee left.

Crazy? Yes. But what's the difference -- and the harm -- if you're learning on the fly and don't know any better?

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