Ravens contain Jaguars' offensive trio

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Ravens' defensive game plan centered around three primary goals. Besides wanting to pressure Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich, the defense was concerned about corralling elusive running back Fred Taylor and not allowing receiver Jimmy Smith to revive his past glory.


In manufacturing a 24-17 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens contained all three standouts with varying degrees of success.
Leftwich lost two fumbles as he was sacked four times and tossed a game-clinching interception to linebacker Ray Lewis with one minute remaining.
"We've got to get pressure," said outside linebacker Peter Boulware, who sacked the first-round draft pick once. "All great defenses get to the quarterback."
Defensive end Tony Weaver had a sack and forced fumble that led to another Baltimore score to open the fourth quarter. He also lined up in several spots across the line of scrimmage in relentlessly attacking the pocket.
"I play like that every game, whether it's over the guard, tackle or center," Weaver said.
Taylor finished with 108 all-purpose yards, but never scored. 
While the Ravens allowed 105 rushing yards in the first half for an eventual season-high total of 134, they only gave up 29 yards on the ground in the second half.
"They came out and they were running the ball really good," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Fred Taylor is one of the best backs. They stopped giving him the ball."
Meanwhile, Smith finished with five receptions for 72 yards and no touchdowns. He entered the contest with 88 receptions for 1,407 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games against Baltimore.
Franchise player Chris McAlister's press coverage was sufficient enough to keep Smith from becoming a major factor. His long reception was 27 yards.
"Jimmy Smith is always one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL," McAlister said. "The front seven made our job easier. The quarterback can only take so much time to look at one person."
Baltimore allowed 320 yards of total offense, but held Jacksonville to 3-for-14 on third downs.
"I'm not going to lie to you and say we played perfect defense," linebacker Ed Hartwell said. "We definitely have to play better against St. Louis and Miami, but we played good enough to beat the Jaguars."
LEWIS LIMITED: Running back Jamal Lewis leads the NFL in rushing with 1,045 yards rushing.
Against the Jaguars' sixth-ranked run defense, he was held to a season-low 68 yards on 21 carries.
Lewis' string of six consecutive 100-yard games was halted, but Baltimore still won the game.
"I'm not a selfish guy," Lewis said. "I'm not the key to this offense. I just play a big part."
Lewis declined to question the decision to not hand him the football on 2nd-and-9 late in the fourth quarter at the Ravens' 41. Instead, Ravens coach Brian Billick opted for another long pass to tight end Todd Heap, which fell incomplete.
"That was my call," Billick said. "I wanted to make something happen. They had been moving the ball well. We hadn't. I wanted to take one shot to try to put the game away, and it didn't turn out."
On the next snap, Lewis was tackled after two yards and Baltimore punted. Then, Lewis intercepted Leftwich's pass after Jacksonville drove into Ravens territory.
"I have nothing to do with the play-calling," Lewis said. "I just run it. That's my job and what I stick to. I'm sure there was a reason."
ON THE SPOT: Because cornerback Corey Fuller was held out with a groin and hamstring strain as Gary Baxter shifted over from free safety, Lamont Brightful was activated as an extra defensive back.
The decision to deactivate return specialist Dedric Ward allowed Brightful to reclaim his position for at least one game. He responded with three kickoff returns for 101 yards, including a 58-yard return to set up a field goal by Matt Stover.
"I want to let them know they can rely on me," Brightful said. "What happens next week is the coaches' decision, but I want to make their decision as hard as possible."
INJURY UPDATE: Ravens safety Chad Williams suffered a lower back strain. Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg received stitches for a busted lip. Tight end John Jones suffered a stinger. Jamal Lewis and quarterback Kyle Boller said they didn't aggravated sprained shoulders.
Jaguars cornerback Fernando Bryant suffered a concussion in the second half and was down for several minutes before being helped off the field.
INACTIVES: The Ravens held out quarterback Anthony Wright, Fuller, fullback Ovie Mughelli, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, offensive tackle Damion Cook, receiver Ron Johnson, Ward and defensive end Riddick Parker. The Jaguars' most prominent absence was injured quarterback Mark Brunell.
QUICK HITS: Receiver Travis Taylor caught his 150th pass of his career in the first half. He finished with three catches for 64 yards. ... The Ravens went 0-for-3 in the red zone. … Outside linebackers Cornell Brown and Terrell Suggs recorded sacks.


Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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