Ravens sack QB Bortles eight times, block punt in win over Jacksonville
BALTIMORE -- At this point in the season, when results count far more than style, the Baltimore Ravens will happily accept a flawed victory.
That is precisely what they got Sunday.
The Ravens trailed at halftime and never built a comfortable lead against lowly Jacksonville, yet did just enough to squeeze out a 20-12 win to stay in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
Eight sacks of rookie Blake Bortles and a touchdown on a blocked punt were the highlights of an otherwise forgettable performance by Baltimore.
The Ravens (9-5) scored just once with their offense on the field and gained only 31 yards rushing through three quarters. The usually reliable Justin Tucker missed two field goal tries, and all three units made enough mistakes to keep a football coach up late at night -- even after a victory.
"We had too many to overcome to play the kind of football we wanted to play," coach John Harbaugh said. "Too many long-yardage situations, too many penalties, too many special teams penalties ... too many things we had to clean up."
But the defense was sound, and there were enough positives to enable Baltimore to escape with its fourth win in five games.
"Our guys have the ability to overcome adversity and have the ability to keep pounding and keep fighting and not let self-inflicted wounds overcome us," Harbaugh said.
Terrell Suggs was credited with 2 1/2 sacks and rookie Timmy Jernigan, starting for the suspended Haloti Ngata, had two.
"We're doing what we just do best -- knocking down quarterbacks," said linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who had a sack to match his single-season high of 17.
Jacksonville (2-12) tried just about everything in its bid to pull off an upset, including an onside kick and a fake punt. Both worked, but it wasn't enough to earn the Jaguars their first win on the road.
Joe Flacco went 20 for 30 for 221 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens, who blanked the Jaguars over the final 30 minutes.
Bortles completed 21 of 37 passes for 210 yards, and an interception that came in the game's final minute. He threw under pressure for most of the game -- Baltimore's season-high eight sacks increased the number Jacksonville has yielded this season to 62.
Bortles played much of the game with a sprained right foot and was in a walking boot afterward.
"They're great up front. We knew that coming into the game," Bortles said of the Ravens. "A lot of the sacks were on me holding the ball too long. It's something that I'm working on and have to do better."
The Jaguars' points came on four field goals by Josh Scobee.
"No touchdowns," coach Gus Bradley lamented. "Even if we get one, one touchdown, it gives us a great opportunity in this game."
After leaving to jeers on their first series of the second half, the Ravens mounted an 80-yard drive to take a 17-12 lead with 8:34 left in the third quarter. Flacco went 5 of 5 for 65 yards, including a 27-yard completion to Owen Daniels and a 3-yard touchdown pass to the tight end.
The Jaguars were then poised for a three-and-out, but punter Bryan Anger flipped a pass to Will Ta'ufo'ou for 19 yards to extend the drive. Five plays later, however, Jacksonville punted.
From that point, neither team had much success moving the ball until the Ravens put together a late 49-yard march that produced a field goal and an eight-point cushion with 1:11 remaining.
"Obviously it didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked," Daniels said, "but that's the way it is."
Baltimore trailed 12-10 at halftime after gaining only 13 yards on the ground and going 0 for 6 on third-down conversions.
Three straight plays during the game's opening series showed why Jacksonville came to town with only two wins. After tight end Marcedes Lewis dropped a second-down pass, Bortles missed connecting with a wide-open Cecil Shorts.
On fourth down, Baltimore's Darian Stewart burst through the line to block Anger's punt. Kamar Aiken scooped up the ball and went 11 yards for a touchdown, Baltimore's first score on a blocked punt since Ed Reed did it against Seattle in 2003.
From there, the only scoring in the first half came on field goals.