But after a 42-10 drubbing by a San Francisco 49ers team that would advance to the NFC championship game, they marked their 2014 return to England with a better showing: a 31-17 loss to a Dallas Cowboys squad that would win the NFC East.
The Jaguars are 3-0 at Wembley Stadium since, their most recent win a 44-7 pasting of the Ravens, who were making their international debut Sunday.
While five games is too small a sample size to divine how a team might improve — or whether it has improved — with each trip to London, Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged Monday that Jacksonville likely better understood how to manage the issues attendant with playing a game an ocean away from home.
“There were some certain things that came up that you look at and go, ‘That wasn’t ideal,’ ” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference. “But we really had no way of knowing that. Even all of the people that we talked to, you don’t get everything.”
At this point, he’d rather not try to get everything again.
“To be honest with you, and maybe I’ll get in trouble for saying this, we don’t plan on going over there anytime soon,” he said. “So somebody else can do that job.”
Harbaugh said he wasn’t distracted or shaken by the team’s protest during the U.S. national anthem so much as the droves of purple filling Wembley Stadium.
He estimated seeing 20,000 Ravens fans at kickoff, and said of them: “They were loud and they were into it.
“I was just more disappointed than anything that we didn't give them what they deserved: a good performance.”
Asked about a Sunday in which the Ravens weren’t the only undefeated team to fall hard — the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their first game this season, to the previously winless Chicago Bears, while the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers both lost by double digits — Harbaugh cited his love for an appropriately named film: “Any Given Sunday.”
Harbaugh joked that he might one day recite the speech delivered by Al Pacino’s character, also a coach, in the 1999 sports drama to the Ravens before a game or practice. Both coaches — Harbaugh and Pacino’s Tony D'Amato — know what’s possible on the gridiron. So while Harbaugh had missed the upsets on the team’s flight home, they didn’t surprise him.
“Any given Sunday, that’s what makes football so great,” he said. “That’s the National Football League, and to me, that’s what makes it so much fun to watch. It’s full of drama. Can’t wait until next Sunday.”