Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston is not pleased with the play of the Ravens despite remaining undefeated in a 19-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — Asked this week about his team's last-second and officials-aided loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, coach John Harbaugh said it will be the Ravens' job to make sure the game doesn't come down to one play.
The Ravens didn't listen, but they found a way to win anyway. A sloppy, mistake-filled performance had the Ravens on the cusp of their first loss. However, Justin Tucker's 54-yard field goal with just over a minute to play powered the Ravens to a 19-17 victory over the equally sloppy Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field in front of an announced 60,127.
The Ravens are 3-0 for the first time since 2009, and they reached that mark by overcoming their own mistakes and getting plenty of help from the Jaguars (0-3).
In the fourth quarter, Ravens return man Devin Hester muffed a punt that led to a go-ahead 49-yard field goal by the Jaguars' Jason Myers, who also kicked the game-winner against the Ravens last year with no time on the clock.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who completed 21 straight passing attempts at one point of the game, threw two interceptions in the final quarter. Yet the Ravens still had a chance, thanks to their defense and special teams. Rookie cornerback Tavon Young repelled one late Jaguars' scoring threat when he picked off a Blake Bortles' pass that was deflected by Timmy Jernigan.
But two players later, Flacco was picked off by Tashaun Gipson, who returned it deep into Ravens' territory. Myers lined up trying to give the Jaguars a four-point league but the kick was blocked by Ravens defensive end Brent Urban.
With Flacco hitting Steve Smith Sr. to convert a key fourth down, the Ravens got into position for Tucker to bury a 53-yard field goal to give them the 19-17 advantage. Bortles and the Jaguars got the ball back, but his third-down attempt in the middle of the field was intercepted by Zachary Orr.
The Ravens led 10-0 early in the second quarter and 16-7 early in the third. However, not converting drives and settling for field goals loomed large when Blake Bortles hit Allen Robinson for their second touchdown connection of the afternoon.
The 11-yard strike was initially ruled incomplete, but the call was reversed after a Jaguars' challenge. The extra point made it a 16-14 game.
The Ravens went into halftime leading 13-7. They seemingly controlled the game over the first 30 minutes but their usually reliable special teams units let them down. A holding penalty on long snapper Morgan Cox kept the Ravens from burying the Jaguars inside their own 5 on the second position. It was one of three first-half special teams penalties, two of them called on Cox.
Jacksonville's lone first-half scoring drive ended on a 5-yard Blake Bortles touchdown pass to Allen Robinson, who beat Shareece Wright on the play to cut the Ravens' lead to 10-7. The touchdown was set up by Rashad Greene's 42-yard punt return.
Otherwise, the Ravens outgained the Jaguars, 158-103. Flacco scored the Ravens' only touchdown in the first half on a 7-yard run and ended the first half completing a team-record 17 straight passing attempts. He was 18-of-22 for 141 yards in the first half.
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The previous team record was 14, set by Flacco in 2009 against the Denver Broncos. All told, Flacco completed 21 consecutive passes. The streak ended when Mike Wallace dropped what should have been a touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
Tucker, who had field goals from 43 and 42 yards in the first half, converted from 37 yards to give the Ravens a 16-7 lead early in the third quarter. He has yet to miss a kick this season.