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Quick Thoughts on Jaguars Sunday Night Football Loss to Ravens: 'It Comes Down to the Home Stretch'

Quick Thoughts (postgame) - Week 15

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 23-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in a 2023 Week 15 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. They're good, just not great yet. There will be panic among fans and observers after this one – understandably so considering Sunday marks the Jaguars' third consecutive loss. And perhaps through 14 games we know where this team is – capable of contending and making the playoffs, but not capable of beating the best teams. The Jaguars have beaten a bunch of good teams this season – particularly the Indianapolis Colts twice and Houston Texans once – which is why they deservedly control their destiny in the AFC South despite all three teams sharing an 8-6 record. What the Jaguars haven't done – and what they couldn't do Sunday in their first Sunday Night Football appearance since 2008 – is beat "elite teams." They have lost to the NFC's best team, the San Francisco 49ers. Now, they have lost to the Ravens, who deservedly have the AFC's No. 1 seed. The Jaguars can still make the postseason with victories in their final three games. Once there, they can win their way to another chance to prove they belong in the elite conversation. They're not there yet. "Right now, we're just not good enough to pull these games out against good football teams," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "That's the honest truth. Until we figure that out, it's going to be rough."
  2. Giving it away. In a game in which the Jaguars at times seemed in control against the AFC's best team, particularly in the first half, their season-long trend of self-inflicted errors again cost them dearly. Kicker Brandon McManus missed first-half field goals of 50 and 55 yards. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence lost a second-quarter fumble at the Ravens 19. The Jaguars then were at the Ravens four-yard line in the final 30 seconds of the first half, not only missing a touchdown but missing a field-goal attempt when Lawrence threw short of the end zone with no timeouts. Pederson talked this week of the Jaguars needing to eliminate mistakes, get out of their own way and giving themselves a chance without self-inflicted errors. That's still a major need. "We have to understand that the No. 1 thing out there is the football; pre-snap penalties and the football," Pederson said. "That's the one thing that's kind of plagued us all season. We're just giving points away and it's hard. We're making it too hard."
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens

S Rayshawn Jenkins (2)

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

  1. It was frustrating to watch the Jaguars in the first half. The Jaguars moved up and down the field and other than one drive, kept the Ravens in check. The missed field goals didn't help, but they didn't kill them thanks to the defense coming up with a big sack and an interception to end those opportunities for the Ravens. Lawrence, however, made two egregious decisions inside the red zone that kept them off the board in the first half. He must understand the situation; on third-and-17, you have to come away with at least three points – which at that point would have tied the game. But he was careless with the ball and fumbled. Then, a beautiful pass to wide receiver Zay Jones near the goal line should have been followed by a spiked ball or a pass out of the back of the end zone to guarantee points. Instead, Lawrence's pass to wide receiver Parker Washington on the sideline ended when they ruled Washington stayed in bounds and the clock ran out. In the end, they couldn't overcome four consecutive drives inside the Baltimore 40-yard line ending with zero points. Pederson said this week that his team must stop beating itself if it wants to play its best football as the season approaches its peak. They're not doing that based on that first half Sunday. "We can't get out of our way, that's the frustrating part," Pederson said after the game.
  2. It's so frustrating to watch Jackson create something from nothing. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson made the Jaguars chase him all over the field until someone in the secondary lost track of a target. NBC had a shot of Jaguars defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi on the sidelines with an oxygen mask on in the fourth quarter after a series filled with Jackson highlights. We saw it over and over as he found tight end Isaiah Likely shaking the coverage and running free down the field. When the Jaguars were worn-down chasing sideline to sideline, the Ravens started pounding the football on the ground and the defense didn't have enough left to offer much in the way of resistance. Jackson's 97 rushing yards powered the Baltimore rushing attack to 251 yards. "The defense really came to play," Pederson said. "I thought for the most part the defense kept us in the game and kept us close."

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

1. I'm not mad, just disappointed. The Jaguars not only wasted another opportunity to prove themselves on a national level, but they also embarrassed themselves with multiple silly mistakes. McManus missed two field goals early in the game, poor clock management took points off the board before the half, and Lawrence cost his team points by turning the ball over twice. There is certainly no shame in losing to the Ravens, but a game like this shows just how far the Jaguars have to go before they can be considered elite.

2. It all comes down to the home stretch. The AFC South lead was pretty comfortable this time last month, but now it's a three-horse race again. The Jaguars control their own destiny, but there is no longer a margin for error. The Jaguars could need wins on the road in Tampa and Tennessee, while also winning their final home game of the year against the Panthers. Those teams have a combined 14-28 record this season, which should give Jacksonville an advantage. However, riding a three-game losing streak, the Jaguars must look inward for answers and must do it quickly.

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