5-1 Ravens give Jags the boot
Stover's 5 field goals, record 6 turnovers drop Jaguars to 2-4; Central win is 8th straight; Brunell is benched before game's lone TD
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Ravens used their own special formula - suffocating defense and Matt Stover's steady leg - to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 15-10, in a not-ready-for-prime-time game at ALLTEL Stadium last night.
A crowd of 65,194 streamed out of the stadium with 10 minutes left in a ghastly game that may have ended an era in Jacksonville, missing what briefly threatened to be another Jaguars' comeback in this torrid series.
All they missed, though, was Jacksonville's sixth turnover of the night, an interception by cornerback Chris McAlister that preserved Baltimore's eighth straight victory in the AFC Central Division.
At 5-1, the Ravens maintained their half-game division lead over the Tennessee Titans, who won yesterday. The Ravens tied the Miami Dolphins for the best record in the AFC.
The Dolphins, who dealt the Ravens their only loss, hold the tiebreaker in the event of a tie.
Touchdowns once again were at a premium last night. Jacksonville got the only one of the game, but it wasn't enough to overcome five Stover field goals. Stover hit from distances of 47, 32, 43, 21 and 24 yards. It was the fourth time he matched his career high of five field goals in a game.
It also signaled more of the same for an offense that hasn't reached the end zone in the last 126 minutes, 39 seconds, or since the Ravens punched in a final touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals two weeks ago.
Content with the win, Ravens coach Brian Billick was in no mood to discuss his offensive frustrations. The Ravens haven't gotten a touchdown in 13 red-zone penetrations on the road this season. They were 3-for-17 on third downs last night.
"The offense, we held up our end as best we could," Billick said. "Right now's not the time to ask about third-down efficiency, red-zone efficiency. Coulda, shoulda, woulda.
"The emotional toll of what we're having to go through and face a team like that. ... This is our night collectively, and we're going to enjoy it."
The Ravens went into the game without Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden, who has a sprained ankle, and lost center Jeff Mitchell to a high ankle sprain in the first quarter. Mitchell is doubtful for next week's game at Washington.
Without their two best linemen, the Ravens never mounted a running game, the staple of their offense so far. Jamal Lewis gained 43 yards on 16 carries, and the team averaged 2.3 a carry against a defense determined to stop the run.
Even a career-high nine catches by split end Qadry Ismail couldn't break the offensive spell. Ismail dropped what would have been his 10th catch and a touchdown on a deep ball at the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Tony Banks completed 17 of 39 throws for 154 yards.