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Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Jaguars 44, Ravens 7

Posted Sep 24, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday

LONDON – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday

Oehser …

1 .Give Blake Bortles a ton of credit. Not only did the fourth-year quarterback play pretty much mistake-free Sunday, he made plays above the Xs and Os that were significant to the Jaguars building a 23-point first-half lead. That Bortles finished Sunday with four touchdowns and a statistical line (20-31, 244 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions) that made it one of the best games of his NFL career. But remember: it was Bortles’ escapability that helped earn him the starting job in preseason. He used that twice in the first half to set up points, escaping pressure to throw eight yards to wide receiver Marqise Lee to set up a second-quarter field goal and keeping a drive alive late in the quarter with a seven-yard, first-drive-converting scramble. Bortles’ second touchdown pass came two plays later. Bortles’ legs produced seven points the Jaguars might have missed with a less mobile quarterback. They were big plays that shouldn’t be forgotten in a huge day for Bortles.

2. Pressure, pressure, pressure: The Jaguars’ dominance was total on Sunday. While part of it came because of an efficient offense, the defense was dominant and defined the way. The Jaguars held the Ravens to 15 total first-half yards, which included minus-4 yards passing. The Jaguars forced four consecutive three-and-out possessions to start the game, and cornerback A.J. Bouye ended the fifth Baltimore possession with an athletic interception off a tipped ball that led the Jaguars’ second touchdown. The Jaguars didn’t match the franchise-record 10 sacks they registered in a Week 1 victory at Houston, but that may never happen again. What they did early was register sacks on two of the first three possessions with real first-down pressure on another series. The Jaguars’ defensive line appeared to have an advantage on paper. They parlayed that advantage into early harassment and what turned out to be an insurmountable  lead.

3 .Power and efficiency – that describes running back Leonard Fournette and it sure described him Sunday. While there were other more obvious Jaguars storylines Sunday such as Bortles and a stifling defense, Fournette has made it clear through three games that he absolutely is as good as advertised – and well worth the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fournette’s power and ability to push the pile was key early as the Jaguars took control of the game’s momentum. The threat of Fournette is something opponents must honor, and his ability to get at least an extra yard from most runs is beginning to define this Jaguars offense. Perhaps most impressive is the efficiency with which Fournette runs. He has outstanding vision, and makes decisions quickly. That puts strain on a defense and helps him get the most from every carry. He finished with 59 yards on 17 carries Sunday, but forget statistics. The man’s impressive.

Sexton ...

1. The home field advantage at Wembley is real, really real. The Ravens are a good football team that absolutely fell apart and NEVER threatened today. The Jaguars know how to travel and were physically ready to play. The Ravens never looked like a 2-0 team, never showed their speed or precision and never made a serious push on either side of the ball.

2. Dante Fowler Jr.'s first sack on the first series put blood in the water and the defense feasted all day long. The defensive front absolutely dominated a solid Baltimore front and the secondary shut down Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace with ease. The confidence on the sidelines was infectious, they knew the Ravens couldn't move the ball on them and they never took their foot off the gas. The Jaguars secondary was absolutely dominant and both corners made game changing plays on the ball. They're going to just keep getting better.

3. Blake Bortles was magnificent a week after he wasn't. If you could have stood where I stood you would have heard what I heard, which was his teammates incredible reaction to his four-touchdown performance. Coming into the game, he was the key. He had to avoid the turnover plauge that so many teams who play the Ravens come down with. He was sharp, accurate and willing to throw the ball away. No one was happier for him than the defense, who stood and applauded as he came out of the game for the final time. A strong, strong showing in a very important game.

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