JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars’ 23-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in a 2023 Week 15 game at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville Sunday
1. Boink – and a miss. The Ravens took an early lead, with a 43-yard field goal by All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker giving them a 3-0 lead with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaguars, who punted after one first down on the game's opening possession, then drove into Baltimore territory with quarterback Trevor Lawrence passing 28 yards to tight end Luke Farrell for a first-and-10 at the Ravens 35. The drive stalled there, with Jaguars kicker Brandon McManus missing a 50-yard field goal attempt off the right upright to keep the Ravens' lead 3-0 with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter. McManus missed from 55 yards on the Jaguars' next drive to keep the score 3-0 with 13:01 remaining in the second quarter. Head Coach Doug Pederson said afterward his confidence in McManus remains "high. He's a veteran kicker. He knows that these last couple of weeks haven't been his best. He had opportunities tonight to score some points for us and keep us close, and I know he takes a lot of pride in that, and he'll work on it this week and be better for it."
2. Oh no. The Jaguars, despite the two missed field goals, stayed close early because of a strong defensive effort after the Ravens' first series. Outside linebacker Travon Walker stopped a Ravens first-quarter drive with a 15-yard sack on quarterback Lamar Jackson. While that stop didn't lead to points, the Jaguars' first takeaway of the game came on the next series when safety Rayshawn Jenkins intercepted a Jackson pass back across the middle of the field to give the Jaguars a first down at their 48. The Jaguars drove to the Ravens 23, but Lawrence – scrambling on third-and-17 from the Ravens 23 – fumbled at the Ravens 19. Cornerback Arthur Maulet recovered and returned 21 yards to the Ravens 40. "We can't get out of our way," Pederson said. "That's the frustrating part because we do some really good things, and then it's a play two or here and there that keep us from scoring."
3. Oh no, no, no, no. The end of the first half in a very real sense defined the game for the Jaguars. First, after playing well and making clutch plays defensively for much of the first two quarters, the Jaguars allowed a late touchdown when Jackson capped a 60-yard drive following Lawrence's lost fumble with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Isaiah Likely. That gave the Ravens a 10-0 lead with 1:12 remaining in the second quarter. The Jaguars then drove quickly deep into Ravens territory, with Lawrence's 36-yard pass to wide receiver Zay Jones giving Jacksonville first-and-goal at the five-yard line with just under :30 remaining in the half. Lawrence threw for a one-yard gain to wide receiver Parker Washington, who was tackled in bounds at the Ravens four. With Pederson having called timeouts to preserve time on the Ravens' previous possession, the clock ran out and the half ended with the Ravens leading, 10-0. "We're going to stay aggressive," said Pederson of the decision for Lawrence not to spike the ball after the pass to Jones. "We've scored before in those situations. It was just a mistake, I think, by Trevor, [not] knowing the situation and knowing how much time is left right there. It's a great learning experience for us from the standpoint of don't throw it inbounds to be tackled in that situation. We're learn from that one, but just another great opportunity for us to try to get in the end zone."
4. Wow. A half of mistakes and struggles gave way to a huge play to start the second half for the Jaguars – with wide receiver Jamal Agnew's speed and playmaking ability getting the Jaguars back in the game. First, the Jaguars forced a Ravens punt on the first possession after halftime. Then, an 11-yard pass from Lawrence to tight end Evan Engram gave the Jaguars a first down at their 31. Two plays later, Lawrence found Agnew deep and wide open behind the Ravens defense. Agnew, who returned from injured reserve this week, turned the play into a 65-yard touchdown that cut the Ravens' lead to 10-7 with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter. "We knew if the corner grabbed Rid (WR Calvin Ridley), then I was going to be wide open," Agnew said. "Hats off to the coaching staff for drawing that up, and it worked out just how it did."
5. Up for grabs. The Jaguars as the third quarter approached an end had a very real chance, having cut a double-digit halftime lead to three with Agnew's touchdown. But the Ravens late in the quarter drove from their 42, reaching the Jaguars 30 – where they faced second-and-six. Jackson threw a high pass to tight end Isaiah Likely. Cornerback Darious Williams moved into position for the high pass, but Likely out jumped and outfought Williams for the ball to give the Ravens a first down at the Jaguars four. Ravens running back Gus Edwards two plays later opened the fourth quarter with a one yard run up the middle that pushed the Baltimore lead to 17-7 with 14:58 remaining.