Flacco, Ravens on target vs. Jags
Joe Flacco completed 27 of 36 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns before leaving early in the third quarter, and the Baltimore Ravens cruised to a 48-17 preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Flacco connected with nine receivers, most notably second-year wideout Torrey Smith, who finished with eight catches for 103 yards. Anquan Boldin caught a 5-yard TD pass and Vonta Leach scored on an 8-yard reception.
Baltimore finished with 571 yards total offense and had five drives of at least 80 yards. The 48 points were the most ever scored by the Ravens in a preseason game.
With support from a defense that kept Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert in check, the Ravens (No. 5 in the AP Pro32) built a 20-3 lead before Flacco took a seat.
After opening the preseason with wins over the New York Giants and New Orleans, Jacksonville (No. 31) took a step back against the Ravens. Gabbert went 11 for 21 for 117 yards over three quarters, and Rashad Jennings, starting in place of holdout Maurice Jones-Drew, gained 57 yards on 13 carries.
Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis played for the first time this summer following knee surgery, but Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross was forced from the game with an ankle injury and tight end Zach Miller left in the second quarter with an injured leg.
Against the Giants and Saints, Gabbert drove the Jaguars (2-1) to a touchdown on their opening possession. In this one, Jacksonville started on its own 5 after a Ravens punt and made only one first down - on a 16-yard completion to first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon - before kicking the ball away.
Ray Rice began the subsequent drive with a 28-yard run, but the march stalled inside the 10 before rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 33-yard field goal. It was an unfulfilling score for the Ravens (2-1), who were intent upon improving their inability to get touchdowns when inside the 20.
That shortcoming would be resolved in Baltimore's third drive. Flacco went 8 for 9 for 87 yards and made it 10-0 with a touchdown throw to Boldin.
The march started with a 16-yard pass to Smith, who came up limping but returned later in the series and caught a key third-down pass. Smith missed last week's game with a sprained ankle.
Following another Jacksonville punt, Flacco went 5 for 5 on a 30-yard drive that ended with a 53-yard field goal by Tucker. In his effort to take the job from incumbent Billy Cundiff, Tucker has made all five of his field goal tries this preseason, including two from beyond 50 yards.
Gabbert finally got the Jaguars rolling late in the half, directing a 12-play, 73-yard march that produced a field goal with 56 seconds remaining.
''It was nice. Gave us a little bit of confidence that we can move the ball,'' Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said at halftime.
Before that, Jacksonville was stymied by a defense that was shredded for 507 yards last week in a loss to Detroit.
''The one thing we did early is kept putting ourselves in long-yardage situations, negative plays on first down,'' Mularkey said. ''It's hard to overcome that against a good football team.''
On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens moved 80 yards to take a 20-3 lead. Flacco went 7 for 9 for 70 yards, completing passes of 7, 32 and 8 yards to Smith before concluding his night with a TD toss to Leach.
''We felt good, and we had a good rhythm going,'' Flacco said. ''There was still one drive there where we would have liked to finish off with a touchdown rather than a field goal. Overall, though, it was a pretty good night.''