Ravens have identity, know how to win; Jags can't say same
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Za'Darius Smith (90) during the first half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) With a stingy defense, a veteran quarterback and a strong-legged kicker, the Baltimore Ravens have a clear identity.
They've won three close games and expect to pull out many more.
''While we would like to blow everybody out, we know realistically we're the Baltimore Ravens and play AFC North, black-and-blue-division football,'' place-kicker Justin Tucker said. ''We just have to be ready to end the close games and put the dagger in them.''
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have no clue who they are, a significant issue in coach Gus Bradley's fourth season.
Those character traits – or lack thereof – were evident in Baltimore's 19-17 victory against Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Ravens struggled to score again, but never panicked in winning their third consecutive game by six points or less. The defense came up big down the stretch, holding Jacksonville to just three points in three trips inside the 35-yard line in the fourth quarter. And Tucker provided most of the scoring, kicking four field goals.
His 54-yarder split the uprights with 1:02 remaining and proved to be the difference. Tucker raised both arms in celebration and turned toward Baltimore's bench. He probably should have taken a bow.
The Ravens are 3-0 for the third time in franchise history and first time since 2009. They will try to stay undefeated at home next week against Oakland (2-1), which will travel cross-country for a 1 p.m. start.
''If we get to the postseason, it means you're a good team and you know how to win football games,'' quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''Having said that, we have to play a little bit cleaner. And on offense we have to find ways to get more points. We played a solid three quarters of football, but we're not scoring.
''I think we're a team that's kind of growing as we're moving along here. But we want to get into the end zone more. That's what's going to put us over the top.''
The Jaguars, 0-3 for the third time in the last four years, are still searching for something tangible to build on. They face AFC South rival Indianapolis in London next week.
The main issue Sunday was Blake Bortles , who threw three interceptions, including two in the fourth.
''We have to put teams away,'' Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. ''You can't get conservative. As a team, I felt like we got conservative with 6 (expletive) minutes left in the game. You can't do that. If it comes down to it and it bites you in the butt like it did today, then it's basically that's why you're the (expletive) Jaguars.
''You can't do that. You have to put teams away. We had plenty of chances and we didn't do it.''
Here are some takeaways from the Ravens and Jaguars game:
WAR OF WORDS: Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Ravens veteran receiver Steve Smith had to be separated late in the fourth quarter and again after the game. Smith is a notorious trash-talker, but Ramsey seemed undaunted. Smith approached Ramsey after the game, assumedly to talk about what went down, but another heated exchange ensued.
''He came up to me on some disrespectful stuff,'' Ramsey said. ''The game's over with. You still mad `cause I was locking you up? All right, go sleep on that. I ain't trying to hear that after the game. … He's an old man acting like that.''
Smith caught eight passes for 87 yards.
FRANCHISE RECORD: Flacco broke his own franchise record for consecutive completions by connecting on 21 straight. Flacco misfired on four of his first five throws, but then reeled off 21 in a row. The streak ended on Mike Wallace's drop in the end zone early in the third quarter. Flacco's previous record was 14 straight set in 2009.
BRIGHT SPOT: It's clear the Jaguars need to force the ball to Allen Robinson, who was the offense's lone bright spot. Robinson finished with seven catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 3-yard score in the first quarter and an 11-yarder in the third. After his first TD of the season, Robinson heaved the ball into the stands in a release of frustration.
IVORY RETURNS: Running back Chris Ivory made his Jaguars debut but was mostly ineffective. Ivory, who missed the first two games because of a ''general medical issue,'' finished with 14 yards on 12 carries.
MISSING MEN: The Ravens managed four sacks without their best pass-rusher. Elvis Dumervil (foot) missed his third straight game but seems to be moving closer to returning. The Jaguars played without two starting offensive linemen – left tackle Kelvin Beachum (concussion) and center Brandon Linder (knee) – and two defensive starters, cornerback Prince Amukamara and defensive end Jared Odrick.
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