NFL Wire News

Ravens-Jaguars: What we learned


BALTIMORE — Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs led a relentless Ravens’ pass rush that kept Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles off-balance for much of the game.

Those aggressive blitz packages were once again the difference in keeping the Baltimore’s playoff hopes alive.

The Ravens (9-5) finished with a season-high eight sacks to overcame a lackluster performance by the offense and sloppy penalties to escape with a 20-12 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday.

“I just think our guys have the ability to overcome adversity,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team committed nine penalties for 70 yards. “We have the ability to keep pounding, to keep fighting and not let self-inflicted wounds overcome us. But we had too many that we had to overcome to play the kind of football we want to play. Too many penalties.”

The Jaguars (2-12) entered the game ranked 28th in stopping the run, but Baltimore could not take advantage. The Ravens’ leading rusher, running back Justin Forsett, limped to the sideline after taking a hard hit in the second quarter and was limited to 48 yards on 16 carries.

“We understood what kind of running game they had and the D-line did as well,” Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien said. “It was a great team effort and we got it done as far as the run game.”

This put the onus on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to make plays, and he responded with an 82-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Owen Daniels that gave the Ravens a 17-12 lead with 8:34 left in the third quarter. Flacco completed 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards.

“I think we hurt ourselves with some penalties and things like that,” Flacco said. “I think they played really well upfront. For the most part, they played pretty well and we had some self-inflicted wounds.”

Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker, who missed two field-goal attempts from over 50 yards, made a 33-yarder with 1:11 left in the game to provide some cushion.

Baltimore linebacker Elvis Dumervil tied a career high with his 17th sack. He now has his sights on the NFL’s single-season record of 22 1/2 set by Michael Strahan in 2001.

The Ravens’ special teams provided the first touchdown when Darian Stewart blocked a punt and Kamar Aiken picked up the loose ball and ran 11 yards into the end zone. It was the first time Baltimore blocked a punt for a touchdown since Nov. 23, 2003.

A pair of field goals by Josh Scobee, from 53 and 45 yards, pulled Jacksonville to within 10-6 at the end of the first quarter. A fumble by Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk on his own 31 led to another 53-yard kick by Scobee, and the Jaguars led 9-7 with 11:33 left in the second quarter.

The teams then traded field goals in the final 3:45 and Jacksonville led 12-10 at the half. Jacksonville caught the Ravens off-guard twice on special teams — recovering an onside kick and gaining 19 yards on a fake punt.

What the Ravens said:

“Our pass rush has been phenomenal. It has been phenomenal all year and it has to be. That’s football. When you get pressure on the quarterback — it’s a passing league — that’s the key.” Head coach John Harbaugh

What the Jaguars said:

“We have to learn from it. If you’re not frustrated, I think something is wrong with you. We are not in this for moral victories. We want real victories.”

— quarterback Blake Bortles

What we learned about the Ravens:

1. With running backs Justin Forsett apparently slowed after taking a hard hit in the second quarter and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro ruled out due to a sprained foot, the Ravens offense struggled to move the ball. Baltimore had just 31 yards on the ground over the first three quarters before finding some holes late in the game. Quarterback Joe Flacco also was limited as a result of several key drops by his receivers. Flacco did a solid job managing the game and completed 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. The Ravens also were hurt by several holding penalties. “I think we hurt ourselves with some penalties and things like that,” Flacco said. “I think they played really well upfront. For the most part, they played pretty well and we had some self-inflicted wounds.” However, Baltimore will likely have bigger problems on the road against Houston next week if it can’t get the run established early and be more disciplined.

2. Baltimore once again set the tone defensively with its ability to get to the quarterback, finishing with a season-high eight sacks. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil finished with a sack and leads the Ravens with 17. The Ravens’ front seven created matchup problems all day against the Jaguars, who have allowed 62 sacks — most in the NFL. “Life is good,” Dumervil said. “We’re getting a win, the sacks are coming, but you just have to keep working.” Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs also created havoc and finished with two sacks. Rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan also had two sacks and linebacker Pernell McPhee had 1.5.

–LB Elvis Dumervil tied a career high with his 17th sack. He now has his sights on the NFL’s single-season record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan in 2001. “Sacks come in bunches,” Dumervil said. “Every man knows that. So when you get an opportunity, you just have to take full advantage of it.”

–WR Steve Smith caught five passes for 37 yards and now has 900 receptions for his career. He is the 18th player in league history to reach that milestone. Smith missed practice with an illness earlier in the week and was listed as probable for the game. “I caught everything Joe threw my way,” he said, referring to quarterback Joe Flacco. “My stamina was fine.”

–CB Asa Jackson injured his knee while breaking up a pass midway through the third quarter and did not return. If Jackson’s injury is serious, it would be a series hit to the Ravens’ already injury-plagued secondary. Ravens coach John Harbaugh did not know the extent of the injury immediately after the game.

–S Terrence Brooks suffered a right knee sprain on the opening kickoff and did not return. Brooks had to be helped from the field by a couple of trainers and could not put any weight on his injured leg. Coach John Harbaugh said Brooks is likely lost for the season.

–LB C.J. Mosley has paid dividends as the Ravens’ top draft pick in 2014. Mosley is the only NFL defender to have at least 80 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Mosley had a sack and seven combined tackles against the Jaguars. “When we can make teams one-dimensional, it helps us out,” Mosley said.

–WR Michael Campanaro appears to have recovered from a hamstring injury and was a healthy scratch. Campanaro has missed the past six games after catching some difficult passes and was effective on special teams.

–WR Torrey Smith was able to play after missing some practice time over the past week with a right knee sprain. Smith caught two passes for 16 yards. “The knee felt great and it feels good to get a team victory,” Smith said.

–CB Rashaan Melvin saw his first action of the season after fellow corner Asa Jackson injured his knee breaking up a pass. Melvin broke up a couple of passes and was solid in coverage. He five combined tackles, including one for a loss.

What we learned about the Jaguars:

1. Jacksonville’s young defense continued to be a bright spot and provided further hope for the future. The Jaguars limited Baltimore’s high-powered rushing attack to just 31 yards over the first three quarters and also contained the passing game. Safety Johnathan Cyprien was especially effective with nine combined tackles. The Jaguars also forced a fumble that led to a go-ahead field goal in the second quarter. “We understood what kind of running game they had and the D-line did as well,” Cyprien said. “It was a great team effort and we got it done as far as the run game.” Jacksonville has been hampered by injuries, with five starters on injured reserve.

2. Quarterback Blake Bortles was questionable entering the game with a shoulder injury. He managed to play and had several effective passes against the Ravens’ weakened secondary. Bortles also showed some toughness by absorbing eight sacks. “Obviously, they were really good upfront,” Bortles said. “They really got after it. We did some good things, but we kept losing yards on the sacks.” Bortles completed 21 of 37 passes for 210 yards with an interception he threw in desperation near the end of the game. Still, the Jaguars have just seven offensive touchdowns over the past 14 games and rank last in scoring with 15.3 points per game. Those issues plagued them again as the Jaguars were able to move the ball into Baltimore territory but had to settle for field goals. Adding a playmaker or two to the offense will likely be a priority in the offseason.

–LB Telvin Smith started his fourth straight game and finished with five combined tackles. The rookie is ranked fourth on the team and sixth among all rookies. “I thought we battled more than anything,” Smith said. “They were competing for the playoffs and their playoff run. We felt we were that team battling for the playoffs.

–DE Ryan Davis suffered a hip pointer in the first half and did not return. His status for next week’s game against the Titans is uncertain. Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley did not provide an update after the game.

–RB Toby Gerhart got his first start since early in the season as Denard Robinson was ruled out with a sprained right foot. Gerhart, who has been hampered in the past with a sprained his ankle, had 54 yards on 13 carries. “It was nice to get out there and move the ball decently when I was in there,” Gerhart said. “I was excited to contribute this week.”

–QB Blake Bortles was cleared to play after suffering a right shoulder injury. However, he absorbed eight sacks and spent most of the day trying to further avoid the Ravens’ aggressive pass rush. Bortles completed 21 of 37 passes for 210 yards, and an interception on a desperation throw in the final seconds. After the game, Bortles was wearing a boot on his right foot. “I don’t think it’s anything big,” he said. “I feel fine. I hope it’s all precautionary and I will be ready to go Thursday night.”

–RB Storm Johnson, a seventh-round draft pick from Central Florida, was activated for the first time in six games. Johnson had 19 yards on six carries. “That’s a good defense with a very talented front seven,” Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley. “So, we knew it was going to be a challenge [to run the ball].”

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