Jaguars crush Ravens in London

Dan WetzelColumnist
Yahoo Sports

LONDON – Jacksonville sure looked at home here in England, crushing a disinterested Baltimore Ravens club 44-7 in the Jaguars’ annual game across the pond.

Quarterback Blake Bortles lit up a Ravens defense that had allowed just one touchdown this season, going 20-for-31 for 244 yards and four touchdowns. Marcedes Lewis caught three of the TDs and Leonard Fournette, meanwhile, rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown. To complete the domination, the Jags’ rebuilt defense forced three turnovers and completely snuffed out the Ravens’ attack.

Baltimore didn’t earn a first down until 3:59 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Joe Flacco was benched to start the fourth quarter with the team trailing 44-0. Flacco finished 8-of-18 for 28 yards and two interceptions.

Jacksonville is now 2-1, a promising start for a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 2007.

Baltimore is also 2-1 and will need to return home and figure out what happened with a critical game against Pittsburgh looming. The Ravens were dreadful in every facet of the game – completely overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage, sloppy on offense and disorganized on defense. They entered the game having forced as many turnovers (10) as points allowed. That team didn’t show up in London.

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw four touchdowns against the Ravens. (Reuters)
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw four touchdowns against the Ravens. (Reuters)

Jacksonville jumped Baltimore early and never let up. Bortles, who entered the game after struggling through the first two weeks, was accurate and efficient, leading the Jags on three consecutive scoring drives to open the game. Seven different Jacksonville players caught a pass for at least 10 yards, including Lewis’ 30-yard touchdown.

That offensive balance, which had been missing this season, gave room to run for Fournette, the powerhouse rookie from LSU, and third-year back Corey Grant, who ran for 75 yards largely on the strength of one 58-yard burst.

This is the fifth consecutive year the Jaguars have played a home game at Wembley Stadium. The team is contracted to continue playing here through 2020 and has hoped to build a fan base in London. Performances like this could go a long way toward that goal.

The game began with at least 24 players on the two teams taking a knee during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” including stars such as Fournette and Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. It was a direct response to President Trump’s comments and tweets over the weekend calling for protesting players to be fired and encouraging fans to boycott the NFL.

The remaining players and coaches linked arms and stood in a sign of solidarity. That even included Jacksonville owner Shad Khan, who had donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund.

“It was a privilege,” Khan said of his decision to show solidarity with his players. “I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem.

“Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”

The Jags rewarded their team owner with their best performance in years.

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