Monday night meltdown: Ravens lose to Jaguars as offense skids to a halt
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was an epic meltdown for the Baltimore Ravens, an absolute debacle, an ugly display of football virtually unmatched in the John Harbaugh era.
And the entire nation was watching Monday night, witnesses to the Ravens' ineptitude headlined by a brutally bad offense that was incapable of manufacturing any semblance of a threatening attack until the final minutes.
The Ravens lost 12-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field, appearing completely flat and uncertain of what to do offensively.
They didn't even gain a first down until late in the third quarter and set a franchise worst with only 16 net yards in the first half.
"It's about as bad as you can play on offense," Harbaugh said. "I don't know if you can play any worse than that until the last one drive. If we don't get the consistency on offense, we're not going anywhere.
"You can't play like we played tonight on offense and expect to accomplish anything. We all know it. We got our butts handed to us in that sense, and we'll go back to work just like we always do."
If not for a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Anquan Boldin with two minutes remaining, the Ravens would have been blanked completely.
The Ravens (4-2) fell to a reeling Jacksonville (2-5) squad that entered the game on a five-game losing streak.
This nearly marked the first time Baltimore had failed to score in a game since a 25-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 15, 2002.
The Ravens gained only 146 yards of total offense, 42 yards short of the club's all-time single-game mark for fewest yards gained.
"It was bad football for most of the game," Flacco said. "We had probably had a three-minute span where we played all right. That's a pretty bad percentage when it's a 60-minute football game."
The Ravens initially thought they had executed a successful onside kick on the ensuing kickoff as safety Haruki Nakamura snared the football in the air. However, it was determined that the ball didn't travel the required 10 yards and Baltimore was penalized.
And Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee knocked in his fourth field goal for the final margin, connecting on a 51-yarder with 1:43 remaining.
After the field goal, Flacco was intercepted by Jaguars defensive back Drew Coleman to end the Ravens' comeback attempt.
Appearing to be confused and suffocated by the Jaguars' relentless defense, Flacco completed only 21 of 38 passes for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 61.0 passer rating.
"You got to play well, you got to do things right and execute," said Flacco, who was sacked three times. "We don't need a wake-up call. We're really not a team that needs that. That's tough to explain, but we have a great group of guys in there. We just didn't play well tonight."
It was a terrible enough performance that it likely prompted many viewers to switch the channel to take in the World Series or whatever else was on television Monday.
The Ravens managed to lose this game despite a defense that limited the Jaguars to four Scobee field goals, which represented all their scoring in this Monday night stinker.
"You have to give them credit," Boldin said. "They played like it was their Super Bowl."
In the first half, the Ravens had zero first downs and only 16 yards of total offense on 25 offensive plays. They finished with one net passing yard in the first half.
And Rice, Ricky Williams and Vonta Leach combined for just 15 rushing yards on eight carries, a 1.9 average.
Rice finished the game with a season-low 28 yards on eight carries, losing one fumble.
Were the Ravens overconfident?
"Oh no, I don't think we took these guys lightly," free safety Ed Reed said. "I know defensively we didn't take these guys lightly. We just need to make corrections. Every game is not perfect. Jacksonville played their hardest. We knew what they were going to do on Monday night. You're going to defend your turf. Every man is accountable for their actions."
The Ravens' first 11 drives didn't amount to much at all, generating nine punts, a lost fumble and a missed field goal from kicker Billy Cundiff from 52 yards out.
A prime example of the ugliness: Flacco actually completed a pass to himself when his throw was batted back into his hands.
He lost eight yards on the 3rd-and-35 play when he was decked by linebacker Paul Posluszny.
How did the Ravens get into a 3rd-and-35 situation? Offensive tackle Michael Oher was flagged for holding twice on the drive.
Flacco completed only 6 of his first 16 throws for eight yards, outdueled by Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Jones-Drew rushed for 105 yards on 30 carries, becoming the first back to hit the century mark against the Ravens this season and the first to rush for 100 yards against Baltimore since Houston Texans star running back Arian Foster last December.
Gabbert wasn't much better than Flacco, but at least he avoided turnovers despite being sacked four times. The rookie first-round draft pick finished 9 for 20 for 93 yards.
The Ravens and Jaguars exchanged fumbles in the first quarter as Rice and Jones-Drew both lost their grip on the football.
First, Rice ran into the back of offensive guard Marshal Yanda to knock the ball loose with cornerback Rashean Mathis pouncing on the fumble.
Then, Jones-Drew got the football ripped out of his hands by defensive tackle Brandon McKinney with the fumble recovered by inside linebacker Jameel McClain.
The Ravens squandered the opportunity, though.
And the Jaguars capitalized despite losing three yards on their subsequent drive as Scobee booted a 54-yard field goal to stake Jacksonville to a 3-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Scobee knocked in another long-distance kick.
He hit his second 54-yard field goal to boost the Jaguars' lead to six points.
That field goal was set up reserve outside linebacker Paul Kruger's running into the kicker penalty on fourth down when he crashed into punter Nick Harris.
Later in the half, Jones-Drew fumbled again on a hard hit by strong safety Bernard Pollard that was recovered by cornerback Cary Williams.
However, the fumble was overturned on an instant-replay challenge.
The Jaguars' most impressive drive was a 17-play, 76-yard march that lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
The drive was marred by a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on strong safety Bernard Pollard and reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo being ejected for fighting after retaliating against Jaguars offensive tackle Guy Whimper.
The drive was capped by a 22-yard field goal by Scobee to stake the Jaguars to a 9-0 lead in the third quarter.
"They basically beat us with their defense," Harbaugh said. "I don't think it was any one thing. It was a lack of execution."
The Ravens had trouble getting Boldin involved until the end of the game.
He finished with four receptions for 40 yards and the Ravens' lone score, but was targeted a dozen times and got shut down for the most part by Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis.
"We can't turn the ball over and can't shoot ourselves in the foot," Boldin said. "Everybody in this locker room knows we have the talent. Our offense just didn't get the job done.
"We've shown at times how good of an offense we can be. If we come out and play like we know how, there won't be any problems."
Those problems, though, were on display immediately.
The Ravens had no first downs in the first quarter, generating just 14 yards of total offense on 13 plays as Flacco passed for only five yards and Rice gained five rushing yards and three carries.
Rice's lost fumble marked his first in 522 touches in the regular season, snapping the longest streak in the league.
"When they're struggling, we have to pick it up," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "We made enough big plays. I have some plays I'd like to have back myself."
Now, the Ravens will look to regroup next Sunday at home against a reeling Arizona Cardinals team.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who criticized offensive coordinator Cam Cameron because of Rice's lack of involvement, said the Ravens can't afford this kind of setback.
"I don't like to lose," Suggs said. "We let one get away. Whatever happens from here on out is our own fault. So, if we don't get a first round bye, it's our own fault."
Ravens notebook: Suggs critical of game plan for not involving Rice more
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Baltimore Ravens star outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was sharply critical of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's strategy, openly questioning why Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Anquan Boldin weren't more involved.
Rice rushed for 28 yards on eight carries, losing one fumble during the Ravens' 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Boldin caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown, and was actually targeted a dozen times.
"It baffles me that Ray Rice only had [eight] carries, I don't really know what the game plan was," Suggs said. "When I have a Pro Bowl running back and he's not getting his touches, I'm going to feel some kind of way about it. He wants the ball and I think we should feed him.
"I have to question how many catches Anquan had. Ray Rice is a phenomenal player. You have to use your phenomenal players. We've got guys on this team that can do some great things. We have to use those guys. It's that simple."
Afterward, Cameron didn't take exception with Suggs' remarks.
"Hey, I agree with him wholeheartedly," Cameron said. "In every game, we have to make sure Ray Rice is involved."
Rice caught five passes for 35 yards.
"Tough one," Rice wrote on his Twitter account after the game. "This is when we will see who is really with us and to the fantasy owners I promise you a better performance next week."
AYANBADEJO EJECTED: Pro Bowl special-teams ace and reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was ejected in the third quarter for hitting Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Guy Whimper in the facemask.
The ejection is the first of his NFL career and will likely trigger a hefty fine from the NFL.
Ayanbadejo retaliated against Whimper, and he got caught.
"Simple case of that," Ayanbadejo said following the Ravens' 12-7 loss Monday night. "So, the play is over and the guy is still touching me. I want to get away from the guy and get his hands off of me and just finish the play. He has his hands on me. Then, he grabs me around the waist, spins me around and then he pushes me and hits me in the face. I get in the guy's face and he punches me in the face.
"You could only take so much and I hit him back in the face. I would like a little protection out there, too. You can only let so many things slide. I punched him back in classic retaliation, but it wasn't the first, it wasn't the second, it was the third time he touches me and then I retaliated. I let one, two and three go. It's not like I'm a dirty player, but a guy could only take so much."
Ayanbadejo was fined $7,500 earlier this season for a horse-collar tackle.
Now, he's hoping to avoid being punished harshly by the league office for this altercation.
"We'll put a presentation together," Ayanbadejo said. "It's an automatic, considerably large fine. We'll put a presentation together and I think the best thing is show the way I play football. Prior to my ejection, I helped Jaguars up during the game, guys I don't even know, two different guys. A coach gets knocked down on the sideline and I want to help him up, and then something like this happened.
"Hopefully, the NFL will be lenient with this fine just like when I had my horse-collar. The crazy thing is I've never had one fine in a year, let alone two fines. And I've never won a Super Bowl. Maybe there's a correlation there. I've never been ejected, I've never been fined. Some weird things have happened this year."
POLLARD FLAGGED ON QUESTIONABLE CALL: On a night where there were several incorrect calls, Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard was flagged for a debatable personal foul in the third quarter.
Pollard crushed Jaguars running back Deji Karim, but was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless player.
However, television replays clearly showed that Pollard used his shoulder to deliver the blow.
"That's football," Pollard said following the Ravens' 12-7 loss to the Jaguars. "As defensive backs, we're taught to break on the ball, go get it. But the ref thought it was a foul. So, he called the play.
"It don't matter what I thought it was. The call's been made, so it's just one of them things where you have to chalk it up, you've got to fight. You've got to do whatever you can do."
Pollard said that he didn't plead his case to the referee.
"I didn't talk to the ref afterwards," Pollard said. "Obviously, he made a decision. They'll look at it, they'll review it and figure out how to make the right calls."
Pollard's teammates disagreed with the call.
"If I'm Bernard, I'm hitting him the same way," outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "I'm not backing off. I understand that's the call they're going to make, but he can't change the way he plays, the way he hit that guy."
Heavily fined in the past when he played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans for hits regarded as outside the rules, Pollard said he's not concerned about the potential financial ramifications of this penalty.
"I'm not worried about getting a fine," Pollard said. "We always have the power to appeal it and hopefully they see what was right."
Pollard laughed when a reporter suggested that the referee should be fined.
And Pollard said he's eager to move on to the next game against the Arizona Cardinals.
"Nevertheless, we can't turn back the hands of time," Pollard said. "We need to figure out how to play 60 minutes to win a football game. That's the great thing about this league.
"It takes everybody. We didn't get that done today. No team is going to have sympathy for us."
RARE MISS: Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff missed badly to the left on a 52-yard field goal attempt, just his third errant kick of the season.
The misfire marks his first miss after connecting on his previous 10 field goal tries. His only other misses this season are a pair of 51-yard kicks against the St. Louis Rams.
"It was an awful kick," Cundiff said. "Of all my misses with the Ravens, it's my worst one. It's a tough situation. There are really no redo's. I had a chance and didn't take advantage of it. I don't know how much there is to walk you through. I think that it was just an awful kick. You saw the end result."
INJURY UPDATES: Ravens free safety Ed Reed left the game briefly with a stinger in his neck, but said it wasn't serious.
"It's good," Reed said. "It's sore right now. It was just one of those moments you can't do anything about. I'll get it looked it. It feels great. They just wanted me to come out. I had to come out for one play, just testing my strength.
"If you've ever had a stinger, it's a bad feeling. I could have moved my arm. It just felt so bad. I wanted to make sure nothing else was going on. The guy got me pretty good, hit me from the left side. I don't know where it happened."
Nose guard Terrence Cody limped off at one point, as did rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith after hauling in a 20-yard pass in the final minutes of the game.
Smith was unhurt, though.
"It was a nice hit," Smith said. "He knocked the wind out of me."
MONDAY NIGHT MEMORIES: Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis made it a special point to offer a few reminders around the locker room regarding the importance of playing in front of the entire nation
"Like I said to these young guys, whatever opportunity you want to leave, whatever legacy you want to leave, these are the nights you leave it," the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year said days before kickoff. "Not that you don't play hard every other day, but these nights are special. So, savor the moment, man, and have a great time doing it."
For the Ravens, this marked their 16th Monday night appearance in franchise history.
They entered the game with a 7-8 all-time mark, and have won three of five under coach John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has now gone 7-5 in prime-time games.
"Everybody's watching," Harbaugh said. "It's tradition, man. You know, it's 'Monday Night Football.' Probably half of you guys have got it on your phone app, right, the 'Monday Night Football' song?'
"So, we're excited about it. We're looking forward to it. It's a great stadium. The crowd is going to be into it. Both teams are going to be into it."
Rice said he regarded the game as a chance to build his reputation, stating: "A lot of great plays and legacies have been made on 'Monday Night Football.'"
Added Suggs: "Yeah, it's always good to play on Monday night. We very seldom play on Monday night. So, we want to take advantage of the opportunity and let people see you play that haven't seen you play in a long time."
In his 16th season, Lewis said playing in the Monday night showcase never gets old.
"It's the biggest stage for our business in the world," Lewis said. "Everybody is sitting home on that Monday night and everybody wants to see how good you're doing. Records are sometimes one thing, but when you get on Monday night, it's all about the individual.
"You know, how can you be great that night? It's where you stick out, where you stand out and where you play as a team and things like that. And that's what makes Monday night special is that everybody, even in the entire league, gets to sit home and watch that one game."
COACH LEWIS?: Because of his passion and knowledge for the game, Lewis is often mentioned as a potential coaching candidate when his playing days are over.
He's more likely, though, to spend his time coaching his children whenever he retires.
"Yeah, coaching my kids, yeah," Lewis said. "I have a lot of coaching to do. I have a lot of coaching to do once the game is over. I have beautiful babies, sons that are really, really excited about having that opportunity. If the opportunity presents itself to whatever opens up, it opens up.
"I am not opposed to it. It's definitely something that I am just natural to do because I am always trying to grab knowledge to share it one way or another. It's just a great opportunity if it does open up."
Ray Lewis III is a star high school running back in Florida who's drawing attention from college recruiters.
"Junior is doing awesome," Lewis said. "My son, he has broken the mold all over again. When I sit there and watch him, you get very emotional as a father, watching your son and all of the things and all of the years that you have taught him.
"Now, he has turned into his own man, his own animal. It scares me sometimes, truly the way that he plays the game, but it's a true blessing to watch him."
Lewis acknowledged that he gets carried away at times cheering his son on.
"No, I can't sit in the stands," he said. "I can't sit in the stands because I am going to run across too many people's laps and knock over nachos and all that stuff. I have to run up and down the sideline, because when he scores, I score."
OLD TIMES: The Ravens used to battle the Jaguars twice per year back in the old AFC Central prior to the NFL realignment.
There were some epic games against the likes of Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith.
"We did have some great rivalries with the Jaguars for many years, for many, many years," Lewis said. "We haven't played them in the last several years, but anytime you play guys like this, and honestly, anytime you play a Jack Del Rio team, you have to know that they're going to be ready to play. So, we're as ready to play as they are and just ready for the ball to snap."
SMITH ACTIVE: Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith made his return from a high left ankle sprain suffered in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The first-round draft pick from Colorado played on special teams without incident, but didn't line up on defense. He didn't suffer any setbacks.
"We would have liked to put Jimmy on defense more," Harbaugh said. "We didn't feel like this was the game to do that."
The Ravens scratched cornerback Chris Carr, who was listed as questionable on the injury report with a left hamstring problem that has sidelined him for the past three games.
Strong safety Tom Zbikowski, doubtful on the injury report with a concussion, was deactivated because he still hasn't been cleared for contact.
The Ravens had previously ruled out wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle) and offensive guard Ben Grubbs. Grubbs and Evans missed their fifth and fourth consecutive games, respectively.
Torrey Smith started in place of Evans, and Andre Gurode started again at left guard.
The Ravens deactivated linebackers Sergio Kindle and Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring, groin) and rookie running back Anthony Allen (thigh).
ON THE RISE: Cary Williams beat the odds to emerge as the Ravens' starting cornerback.
A former practice squad player who began last season serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy, Williams has developed into a solid cornerback.
"Cary, to me, has worked hard, bottom line," Harbaugh said. "He's taken coaching really well. He was always gifted. Start with that foundation. He was a very gifted, talented athlete, and he's very determined to be the best player he can possibly be. He's got a fire in his belly.
"And I think he's learned how to focus his energies on becoming a student of the game, No. 1, and becoming a technician, No. 2, and, then playing with poise. Because you're out there on an island and people go after you and try to get in your head. I think he's really made great strides that way."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens' game captains were defensive end Cory Redding, linebacker Jameel McClain and center Matt Birk. ... The Jaguars ruled out starting offensive guard Eben Britton (back) and started Will Rackley in his place. ... The Jaguars also scratched wide receiver Chastin West, safety Courtney Greene (hamstring), guard Jason Spitz (quadriceps), tight end Martin Rucker, wide receiver Jarrett Dillard and defensive tackle Nate Collins.
Rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee recorded a sack with his beloved great grandmother, Lela Osborne, in the stands watching him along with several other family members. Osborne raised the Ravens' fifth-round draft pick in a crowded one-bedroom home in Pahokee, Fla. "It's a blessing," McPhee said. "I'm so excited." McPhee reserved 25 tickets for family and friends. "I think that's a great story," Harbaugh said. "His whole family, but, especially his grandma, that's the one who he really has a special, special bond with. I can't wait to meet her myself. It's going to be cool."
BALTIMORE RAVENS' REPORT CARD
Joe Flacco was erratic, inept and showed a lack of judgment in his decision-making. It was among the worst games of his NFL career. In the first half, Flacco completed only 6 of 16 passes for eight yards. His confidence and competence might be in question after this one. He finished 21 of 38 for 137 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 61.0 passer rating. He was sacked three times.
Running back: F
Ray Rice didn't come close to resembling a Pro Bowl runner Monday night, gaining only 28 yards on eight carries with five receptions for 35 yards. Ricky Williams wasn't any better, rushing for only five yards on three carries. Rice's trademark elusiveness wasn't on display. The Jaguars did a nice job of containing Rice out of the backfield.
Wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams and tight end Ed Dickson created virtually no separation downfield. It made things very tough on Joe Flacco to mount any semblance of a passing game. Boldin caught only four passes for 40 yards and the Ravens' lone touchdown despite being targeted a dozen times.
Offensive line: D
They got pushed around at the point of attack and couldn't match the quickness of Tyson Alualu and Jeremy Mincey. They didn't pick up blitzes very well and their blocking adjustments were a step behind. The Ravens seem to be regressing upfront and sorely miss the presence of injured left offensive guard Ben Grubbs. Joe Flacco was sacked three times.
Defensive line: B-minus
They contained Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, harassing him with four sacks. Nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody disrupted the Jaguars' inside running game with six tackles. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew eventually warmed up, rushing for 105 on 30 carries. Haloti Ngata had a sack, as did Paul Kruger. Rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee had a half-sack.
The Ravens kept Maurice Jones-Drew in check for the majority of the game. And he fumbled three times, losing one. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded one sack and had a strong game Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain lost steam in the second half and didn't shut down Jones-Drew's cutback lanes. It was a quiet game for Jarret Johnson.
The Jaguars were unable to manufacture any kind of dangerous passing game. Their longest completion was a 24-yard throw to Jason Hill. Cary Williams had seven tackles and one pass deflection. Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert went 9 for 20 for 93 yards and a 59.0 passer rating. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is an enforcer in the secondary, doling out some punishing hits.
Special teams: C
Punter Sam Koch got plenty of exercise with seven punts for 361 yards for a 51.6 average. Billy Cundiff badly missed a 52-yard field goal attempt, uncharacteristic for the AFC Pro Bowl kicker from last season. He was outperformed by Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee, who converted four field goals.
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