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Turnovers do it again


They stopped Jamal Lewis, but the Jaguars couldn't stop committing turnovers.

Rookie quarterback Byron Leftwich turned the ball over three times for the fourth time in five games. His two lost fumbles Sunday spurred an 11-point surge early in the fourth quarter, and his third turnover -- his ninth interception of the season -- killed whatever chance the Jaguars had of sending the game into overtime.

It was a battle of rookie quarterbacks -- Leftwich and Kyle Boller -- at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, where the Jaguars suffered a 24-17 loss that marked the team's sixth consecutive loss to the Ravens.

Boller has been somewhat of an afterthought in the Ravens offense this season, but that's not been the case with Leftwich, who's repeatedly faced game-deciding circumstances. Today's game was another such experience.

Against one of the league's best defenses, Leftwich threw for 208 yards and a touchdown, and had his offense on the move toward a potential game-tying touchdown, but that's when the turnover monster reared its ugly head again.

"It was probably something I shouldn't have been thinking about doing," Leftwich said of having forced a third-down pass with 44 seconds to play. The pass was tipped into the air and intercepted by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to preserve his team's win, its fifth against three losses. Of course, the Jaguars reached the midway point in this season at a franchise-worst 1-7.

"I probably should've gotten a little more on it and have thrown it away. I was in-between," Leftwich said of the pass.

He had moved the Jaguars from their 20-yard line to the Ravens' 31. Tension was beginning to build along the Baltimore sideline. But it all ended with Leftwich's ninth interception of the season.

Leftwich's rash of turnovers, which include six lost fumbles, caused coach Jack Del Rio to be asked if he might give second-year quarterback David Garrard playing time in the near future.

"We'll go back and examine what's in the best interests of the team," Del Rio answered.

Mark Brunell is due to begin throwing this week, but his recovery from elbow surgery on Oct. 13 is expected to keep him unavailable for at least another couple of weeks.

After surrendering an opening-drive touchdown to the Ravens on a 33-yard pass from Boller to tight end Todd Heap, who beat Donovin Darius, Rashean Mathis and Akin Ayodele to pull in the pass, the Jaguars dominated the action for two quarters. They put together a 14-play, 83-yard field-goal drive that pushed the ball down the Ravens' throats on the ground.

The Jaguars out-rushed the Ravens -- the NFL's number one rushing offense -- 134 yards to 103. Fred Taylor gained 78 yards on 22 carries, to Jamal Lewis' 68 yards on 21 tries.

Most surprising was the Jaguars' dominance of time of possession, by nearly 10 minutes. The Jaguars ran 71 plays to the Ravens' 53.

All of that was the result of having kept Jamal Lewis in check. The NFL's leading rusher was kept under 100 yards for just the second time this season, and you'd think that would've spelled victory for the Jaguars, and it probably would've had Leftwich not lost two fumbles early in the fourth quarter.

On consecutive possessions, Leftwich had the ball stripped from his grasp while preparing to pass.

Defensive end Anthony Weaver caused the first fumble and made the recovery at the Jaguars' 24-yard line. Seven plays later, Matt Stover booted a 23-yard field goal.

Linebacker Peter Boulware forced the second fumble, and it was recovered at the Jaguars' 27-yard line. Three plays later Chester Taylor ran 29 yards for a touchdown and Boller completed a two-point pass to Heap.

It marked another one of the Jaguars' nagging fourth-quarter collapses. After having fought back into a 10-10 tie following Ayodele's 15-yard touchdown return of a fumbled exchange between Boller and Jamal Lewis, and with momentum clearly favoring the Jaguars, it quickly fell apart, and Leftwich's fumbles weren't the only cause.

Following Ayodele's touchdown, the Jaguars allowed the Ravens' Lamont Brightful to return the ensuing kickoff 58 yards. Immediately, Stover was back in field goal range.

"I thought we had a good plan coming in," Del Rio said. "It all starts with stopping (Jamal Lewis). We knew it was going to be a tight game. We were up for the fight. In the end, we didn't make the plays. We have to seize that fourth quarter."

"We did our job and stopped the run. Hopefully, we can do that and get a win," defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said.

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