Work in Sports
Five FGs push Ravens past Jaguars 15-10
Matt Stover kicked five field goals and the Ravens took advantage of a team-record six turnovers in a 15-10 victory Sunday night that gave the defending AFC Central champions a three-game losing streak for the first time since 1996.
Baltimore (5-1) was trying to become the first team since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers to record three straight shutouts. It had to settle for its eighth straight victory against AFC Central teams.
"It was an ugly game, but somebody has got to take the ugly girl to the prom," Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said. "We'll take it."
The Jaguars might not make it to the dance this year.
They botched four snaps, losing two of them. The fumbled eight times, failed to field a kickoff that resulted in another turnover and twice got inside the 15 without scoring. It got so bad at the end that coach Tom Coughlin benched quarterback Mark Brunell, who threw interceptions on consecutive series early in the fourth quarter.
"Some of these things are so bizarre it's hard to explain," Coughlin said. "I've lost games in my time, but I've never lost one like that. We just made some of the dumbest things I've ever seen happen."
Jamie Martin replaced Brunell and completed seven straight passes on a 75-yard drive, with Fred Taylor scoring from the 1 to make it 15-10 with 4:04 left. But rookie R. Jay Soward, who dropped three straight passes early in the game, fielded a punt at his 4, the final gaffe in a game filled with them.
Brunell was visibly upset at being pulled.
"I was very surprised," said Brunell, who was 18-of-28 for 167 yards and two interceptions. "I would have liked to have a chance to win the game. This is new territory for me."
It is for the Jaguars (2-4), too.
This is the first time they have lost home games in consecutive weeks since their expansions season, and that's about how they played. Despite gaining 348 yards, and getting into Baltimore territory on eight of 15 possessions, they found a way to lose.
The Ravens are one leg away from an improbable journey, the only NFL team to start the season with five of their first seven games on the road, their only loss at Miami.
"There's something special about this defensive group," coach Brian Billick said. "There's something special about this team."
There was nothing special about the offense. The Ravens had only 193 yards, but never had to go far thanks to Jacksonville. On two drives, Baltimore actually lost yards before Stover hit chip-shot field goals.
The Ravens have gone two straight games without a touchdown, but won both of them.
The Jaguars now face a Monday night game at Tennessee, the only team that beat them last year.
"Your thoughts aren't what happened last year," Brunell said. "It's the situation we're in now."
On a bizarre play that embodied the Jaguars' fate, Baltimore quarterback Tony Banks tried to get rid of the ball under pressure in the end zone and defensive end Tony Brackens snagged it for an interception. But he fumbled as he tried to bull across the line, and Baltimore recovered.
The Ravens were called for holding on the play, putting the ball on the 2. Coughlin challenged unsuccessfully, and the Ravens escaped.
And in a scene that repeated itself four times, Jeff Smith dribbled the snap on the first-and-goal from the 8 late in the first half, and linebacker Ray Lewis recovered. It was the third botched snap by Smith, filling in for the injured John Wade.
He was replaced on the next possession, but that didn't cure everything. After the defense forced another punt, Corey Harris poked the ball loose from Taylor after a short pass play, and Robert Bailey recovered and returned the ball to the 33.
The Ravens got another field goal after Bryan Barker shanked a punt so badly that it landed in the bleachers. The ensuing kickoff floated into the wind, bounced back away from the Jaguars. Anthony Davis recovered at the 34 for Baltimore, but Aaron Beasley sacked Banks and forced a punt.
Notes: Mike Hollis, who had back surgery three weeks ago, practiced field goals about three hours before the game and hit one from 50 yards. ... A Jacksonville fumble recovery was overruled when Baltimore successfully challenged that receiver Travis Taylor never had control of the ball. But the officials spotted the ball on the Baltimore 41. Before the play, it had been first-and-10 from the 46. The error was attributed to the replay crew. ... Rod Woodson has 57 career interceptions, the most of any active players. Carolina's Eugene Robinson has 56. ... Baltimore's Qadry Ismail had a career-high nine receptions.