Playoffs could change perception for QBs Taylor and Bortles

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Benched earlier this season and questioned for years, Tyrod Taylor and Blake Bortles have a chance to change public perception on the NFL's playoff stage.

Taylor helped Buffalo end the longest, current postseason drought in North American pro sports (17 years) while Bortles led Jacksonville to its first playoff berth since the 2007 season.

Whichever one wins the next game could do wonders to his image.

The Jaguars (10-6) host the Bills (9-7) in an AFC wild-card game Sunday, a win-or-go-home matchup that means as much to the quarterbacks as anyone.

The Bills were in talks with free agent Brian Hoyer in March and ready to part ways with Taylor until he agreed to restructure his contract extension and make it a two-year deal worth $30.5 million. He has one year remaining, but the team could save $10 million by moving on after this season.

No one would be surprised to see it happen, especially after coach Sean McDermott benched Taylor in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman in November. Peterman threw five first-half interceptions in a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, and Taylor has been the team's starter since .

"I don't focus on things that I can't control, and I'm going to continue to be that way," said Taylor, who has 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions this season. "All I can control right now is my preparation, my focus, my work ethic to putting it all in for this week. It's a one-game season right now, and that's for everyone.

"I can't allow distractions or thinking too far ahead."

Bortles has taken a similar approach despite constant bashing — and not just the typical criticism from fans and media.

Tennessee defensive end Jurrell Casey told a Nashville radio station this week, "As long as Bortles is back there, if the ballgame is in his hands, he's going to choke."

Casey tried to clarify his comments two days later, writing on Twitter, "Chill, y'all. I was just hyping our defense. If we put the pressure, some QBs will choke."

Hearing talk such as that is nothing new for Bortles, who's been publicly ripped by Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle safety Earl Thomas and Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the past two months.

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