On Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens handily defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 48-17 contest.
Both teams, however, made significant movement towards their first regular-season performance. Here is how both teams fared.
Baltimore Ravens: In the 48-17 drubbing of the Jaguars, Joe Flacco was electric, finishing 27-for-36 with for 266 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Ravens to a 20-3 lead before calling it a night.
In all, the Baltimore Ravens piled up 571 yards and a preseason record 48 points of offensive production before the end. Standout players, Anquan Boldin and Vonta Leach, both scored touchdowns, and Torrey Smith finished the game with eight receptions for 103 yards.
The Ravens were primarily using the no-huddle offense, which they jumped into on the second play of the night, during Flacco’s time on the field, and it was an interesting addition to the offense, even though they were slow to put up points in the beginning of the contest.
The Ravens failed to breach the 50-yard line on their first drive, and, on their second drive, they drove the ball to the Jacksonville seven yard line, where a sack on third and seven forced the Ravens to kick a field goal. On the following drive, they went three and out but followed that up with an 85-yard touchdown drive after a reception by Anquan Boldin in the second quarter, setting up a 10-0 lead.
Still, 28 of the 48 points came when Tyrod Taylor came in during the third quarter and led the team to four touchdown drives, three of which drove 80-plus yards down the field.
The defense looked much improved from previous contests, too. In their second contest of the preseason, they gave up a whopping 507 yards to Detroit, so the defense had a lot to prove Thursday night, even though they were playing against a manageable Jaguars’ offense. The defense, especially the secondary, was gashed in their first two preseason games by Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who went 9-for-13 for 155 yards and a touchdown, and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, who went 12-for-17 for 184 yards with two touchdowns.
They allowed only 258 total yards against Jacksonville. As cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams both struggled handily to compete with Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson the past two weeks, improving against the elite defenses of the league is still needed from the Ravens. Additionally, losing backup safeties Emmanuel Cook (broken leg) and Sean Considine (concussion) also thins the ranks of a questionable secondary.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The most discussed news concerning the Jaguars recently is the contract dispute with Maurice Jones-Drew, but little has been mentioned of the fact that the running game has racked up yards without him. Their rushing attack, led by Rashad Jennings, who had 11 carries for 62 yards against New Orleans in the second preseason game and 15 carries for 57 yards Thursday night, is getting yards on the ground.
Overall, the Jaguars have carried the ball for 401 yards on 81 attempts this preseason. Jennings missed last season because of a knee injury, so, if he can stay healthy, Jones-Drew’s leverage in his contract battle could lose significant leverage.
Their offense, in general, however, was largely ineffective Thursday night. They had four punts in their first four drives before scoring their first points, a field goal, at 6:44 in the second quarter. Justin Blackmon, who was the team’s leading receiver, was targeted eight times and ended with four receptions for 72 yards.
His performance Thursday follows a four reception, 48-yard performance with a touchdown against the Saints last week. He caught his first pass during a third-and-eight situation for 16 yards displaying why the team took him with the 5th overall pick in the 2012 Draft. He, along with free-agent acquisition Laurent Robinson, is supposed to breathe life into an offense that finished last in the league in passing and total offense.
Gabbert targeted Robinson on the first drive when they tried to make their second third-down conversion, but the pass fell incomplete. Blackmon caught a 9-yard pass on that drive, which was a three-and-out, and a 20-yard reception on their third drive, which ultimately ended, once again, with an incomplete pass to Robinson on third down.
In all, the team went only two yards past the Ravens’ 50-yard line preceding their field goal 6:44 in the second period. Rashad Jennings was the featured back with the first team, and he finished with 13 carries for 57 yards before Jalen Parmele relieved him in the third quarter.
A total of 24 of his yards came in the first quarter, and 15 yards came from a single run on their third drive of the night. On the drive ending with a field goal, he ran for 35 yards with a 13- and 9-yard drive. The question remains, however, whether or not he can fill in for Jones-Drew in the regular season.
The Jaguars displayed that they still have some work to do in their rebuilding process, while the Ravens displayed that they can protect against and handily defeat a lesser team. Because the Ravens struggled against the Falcons and Lions, their prowess is questionable, but they have the requisite players to make a run for the Super Bowl. The Jaguars have a rebuilding year ahead.