It was not pretty, but it was the Ravens.
Once again, the outcome of the game came down to the final plays, but the Ravens escaped Jacksonville with a 19-17 win over the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.
The victory gives the Ravens their first 3-0 start since 2009.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Ravens held a 16-14 lead over Jacksonville. Baltimore’s first drive of the fourth quarter ended in a punt. In the ensuing drive, the Jaguars picked up a first down before punting the ball back to the Ravens.
Then the unthinkable happened: Devin Hester, one of the best returners of all time, could not secure the football and muffed the catch. Jacksonville running back Denard Robinson immediately scooped up the ball, setting up the Jaguars at the Baltimore 39-yard line.
Luckily, the Ravens’ defense held the Jags to three offensive plays and limited Jacksonville to a field goal. This gave the Jaguars a 17-16 lead, but it still gave the Ravens the option of kicking a field goal to get the lead back.
The problem was, attaining the lead appeared to be rocket science for the Ravens’ offense. The next two offensive drives for Baltimore ended with interceptions that were both tipped. The first interception gave Jacksonville the ball on the Ravens’ 31-yard line, but Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles gave the Ravens the ball right back when he threw a pass that was intercepted by rookie corner-back Tavon Young. The next interception that Flacco threw left the Jags on on Baltimore’s 29-yard line with 3:17 left.
There would be more of the unthinkable to come.
With the Jaguars in Ravens territory, Baltimore’s defense would need to come up with another stop, and quick. The defense came through, and Jacksonville sent their kicker out after a three-and-out to attempt a 52-yard field goal. During the that drive, the Ravens burned all of their time outs. Converting the field goal would’ve given the Jags a four-point lead, forcing Baltimore to score a touchdown without any timeouts.
Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers’ field goal attempt was blocked by Brent Urban, who also blocked the field goal in Baltimore’s walk-off win over the Browns last season. The blocked kick was recovered by Zach Orr, who took it back to the Ravens’ 43-yard line.
“I do believe that we are a better defense,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “Its not that we didn’t want to stop people last year, we just weren’t good enough to get it done. This year we are playing well enough to get it done.”
With three minutes left, the Ravens needed to get themselves into field goal range for kicker Justin Tucker. Baltimore was able to pick up a first down just before the two-minute warning, but after three offensive plays the Ravens were stopped at the Jaguars’ 35-yard line.
54 yard field-goal attempt? No problem. Justin Tucker put the ball through the uprights to give the Ravens a 19-17 lead with just over a minute remaining in the game. Tucker now has 12 career game-winning field goals and has made mine field goals without a miss this season, including three from fifty yards or more.
“The key to our success is that we that we are able to suppress all of the emotion until after the kick is made,” Tucker said in a walk-off interview. “[Morgan Cox and Sam Koch] are two of the best in the business. I have the up-most confidence in them that they’ll do their job to make mine easier.”
The Jaguars got the ball back after the field goal, but penalties set them up for a third-and-21 play that ended in an interception caught by Orr. The Ravens took the field for a knee, marching to 3-0.
“A win is a win, they all count,” Terrell Suggs said after the game. “3-0 is 3-0. No matter what you all say about it, you cannot discredit the teams that we play.”
- Joe Flacco broke a franchise record when he completed 21 straight passes during Sunday’s game. The previous record was 14 in 2009, also set by Flacco. On Sunday, Flacco went 29-40 for 214 yards and a rushing touchdown. Flacco also threw two interceptions.
- Penalties were a problem for the Ravens’ offensive line on Sunday. Ronnie Stanley was flagged twice, once for holding and once for a false start. Both of those penalties came late in the second half when the Ravens were having a hard time moving the football. Marshall Yanda was also flagged for a holding penalty. Yanda now has three penalties this season, which is how many he had during the entire 2015 season.
- Once again, the Ravens struggled to run the ball. Between Justin Forsett and Terrance West, the duo only produced 65 rushing yards. Flacco scored Baltimore’s lone touchdown on a seven-yard run.
- The pass rush came alive on Sunday, as the Ravens finished with four sacks. Terrell Suggs had two. Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy had the others. Orr led the team in tackles with eight, six solo.
The 3-0 Ravens will now come home for two home games. Next weekend’s game is against the Oakland Raiders (2-1) with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff time. The Raiders defeated the Tennessee Titans 17-10 on Sunday afternoon.