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The quarterback play during Monday Night Football was simply awful. The Jaguars won despite rookie Blaine Gabbert, who completed just 9 of 20 passes for 93 yards. Ravens veteran Joe Flacco, meanwhile, completed 21 of 38 attempts but totaled just 137 yards -- with only eight coming before halftime, and 90 on a single drive.
To put the ugliness in perspective, eight individual quarterbacks threw for more yards Sunday than Gabbert and Flacco's combined total Monday.
So why did the Jaguars win? Defense, first and foremost, but also because they let Maurice Jones-Drew run the ball 30 times. It wasn't always pretty -- he fumbled three times, though he only lost one -- but he kept the chains moving and finished with 105 rushing yards.
Ray Rice, on the other hand, finished with just eight carries for 28 yards, adding five catches for 35 through the air. Why did Baltimore ignore its Pro Bowl running back on a night the passing game clearly wasn't working? John Harbaugh will hear that question all week -- including from his own players. Terrell Suggs kicked off the second-guessing with his post-game remarks. From Pete Prisco of CBS Sports:
"It baffles me that Ray Rice only had seven carries [actually eight]," Ravens veteran defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "This is a Pro Bowl running back you're talking about. They fed their horse. We have to feed our horse. It's all right, just calling a spade a spade."
I asked Suggs if that meant he was unhappy with the game plan.
"I don't really know what the game plan was," he said. "When I have a Pro Bowl running back, and he's not getting his touches, I'm going to feel some kind of way about it. He wants the ball. And I think we should feed him. Ray Rice is a phenomenal player. You have to use your phenomenal players. I have to question how many touches Anquan [Boldin] had. We've got guys on this team that can do some great things. We have to use those guys. It's that simple."
Rice lost a fumble on his third carry of the game, ending a streak of 522 consecutive touches without putting the ball on the turf. He didn't touch the ball again until three possessions later, catching a 10-yard pass on third-and-17. He had to wait another three possessions for his next touch after that, a four-yard run on third-and-nine.
Suggs isn't alone in being confused. The Ravens were within a touchdown of taking the lead for most of the game, so the clock wasn't a factor. And Flacco clearly wasn't moving the ball through the air, with the Ravens not converting a first down until most of the way through the third quarter. So why go multiple possessions in a row without giving Rice the ball? And why wait until third-and-long until doing so?
Harbaugh has six long days to mull that one over.
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice entered Monday night looking for a big day against a struggling Jaguars defense. Four quarters later, the Ravens were on the receiving end of a stunning upset and Ray Rice had done some damage to fantasy football teams.
In a grinding game that should have favored running backs, Rice was unable to match his counterpart, Maurice Jones-Drew. Rice finished the game with 28 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards. While 6.3 points isn't the worst thing in the world, subtracting two points for his lost fumble turns a poor evening into a brutal evening.
Rice entered the 2011 NFL season with a ton of fantasy hype, and prior to Monday night he had almost lived up to it. He's got yardage — Rice had 700 yards from scrimmage through the Ravens' first five games — but touchdowns would be nice to go with it. Rice has just four in the Ravens' first six games.
That pace is actually well ahead of Rice in previous years, though: he's never had more than eight touchdowns in a season, largely because he's split time and goal line carries with Willis McGahee to this point. Without McGahee, though, some thought Rice's production would skyrocket.
For more on the Ravens, check out Baltimore Beat Down. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams and SB Nation's fantasy football hub, and follow @sbnationfantasy on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates and advice.
It's not often that a running back can fumble three times and still make a positive impact, but that was the case for Maurice Jones-Drew on Monday against the Ravens. Only one of his fumbles was lost, and his steady work in the running game (30 carries, 105 yards) helped the Jaguars move the chains on a night that rookie Blaine Gabbert finished with just 93 passing yards. It also helped shorten the game by keeping the clock moving, which shouldn't be overlooked considering the Jaguars' defense was playing over its head by limiting the Ravens to just a single score.
Jones-Drew is typically viewed as a matchup-proof running back, and in the NFL's current era of six-team bye weeks, there's likely no chance you had the luxury of benching him, but things were not looking up as the Jaguars hosted the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7, otherwise known as a Top 3 defense in terms of rushing yardage and scoring.
MJD has been productive enough this season, averaging close to 100 rushing yards a game, but he's had difficulty finding the end zone and a consistent place in the passing game, two areas that have made him such a reliable back in seasons past. Facing the Ravens this week, MJD didn't figure to begin improving in either of those areas, especially with Gabbert at the helm.
Joe Flacco was just awful on Monday night against the Jaguars, finishing the game with just 137 yards. He completed 21 of 38 attempts, but most of those were obviously for short yards -- or, as the case may be, negative yards, such as the pass he caught himself that was batted down and resulted in an eight-yard loss.
As bad as things were, they were almost much, much worse: he racked up 90 yards on his lone touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Baltimore's loss wasn't solely his fault -- Ray Rice was also ineffective -- but it certainly gives fuel to his critics.
Flacco entered the game averaging 256 passing yards a game, totaling 1,576 passing yards and seven touchdowns through his first six games. Flacco's passing yards per game was up nearly 30 yards per game from last season, although his performance Monday doesn't help.
Flacco was ranked by Yahoo! as the 13th ranked quarterback heading into Week 7 taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars who rank 8th against the pass.
For more on Flacco and his matchup with the Jaguars, check out SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, and our Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country.For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams. Follow @sbnationfantasy on Twitter.
Mike Thomas was almost invisible on Monday night -- at least when he wasn't on special teams. He finished the game with just one reception for eight yards, but considering Blaine Gabbert threw for only 92 yards and only one Jacksonville receiver tallied more than 15 yards, it's hard to hold it against him.
On special teams, though, his 28-yard punt return in the first quarter gave the Jags excellent field position, helping set up the game's first points. The Jags actually lost three yards on three plays following his return, but they were still close enough for Josh Scobee to kick a 54-yard field goal. Of course, that's little consolation to his fantasy owners.
Thomas was averaging 50 receiving yards a game with 301 receiving yards on the season and one touchdown through his first six games of the 2011 NFL season. Thomas was ranked by Yahoo! as the 35th ranked wide receiver heading into Week 7 taking on the Baltimore Ravens, who rank second against the pass.
For more on Thomas and his matchup with the Ravens, check out SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, and our Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams. Follow @sbnationfantasy on Twitter.
At first glance, four catches for 40 yards is a ho-hum performance for any NFL wide receiver, but in context of Joe Flacco's miserable performance on Monday night, it was actually enough for Anquan Boldin to finish as the Ravens' leading receiver. He also caught Baltimore's lone touchdown of the day, which helped salvage his evening for his fantasy owners.
Boldin came into the game averaging 71 receiving yards a game with 354 receiving yards on the season, and his touchdown Monday doubled his total on the year. Boldin's receiving yards per game is up nearly 20 yards per game from last season.
Boldin was ranked by Yahoo! as the 13th ranked wide receiver heading into Week 7 taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars who rank 8th against the pass.
For more on Boldin and his matchup with the Jaguars, check out SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, and our Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams. Follow @sbnationfantasy on Twitter.
Ed Dickson averaged 40 yards a game through the first six weeks of the season. On Monday against the Jaguars, he barely managed half of that, finishing with four catches for 23 yards. Blame Joe Flacco, who managed a paltry 137 passing yards on the night.
Of course, anyone hoping that Dickson would put up solid fantasy numbers was probably pretty desperate in the first place, so at least he didn't put up a goose egg -- and in leagues that reward points per catch, he was still somewhat serviceable.
Dickson now has 223 receiving yards with one touchdown through the first seven games of the 2011 NFL season. He was ranked by Yahoo! as the 13th ranked tight end heading into Week 7, taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were ranked eighth against the pass.
For more on Dickson and his matchup with the Jaguars, check out SB Nation's Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown, and our Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams. Follow @sbnationfantasy on Twitter.
The Jaguars pulled off a surprise victory against the Ravens, winning an ugly game on the leg of their kicker, Josh Scobee.
Scobee split the uprights from 51 yards out, his third field goal from 50+ yards in the game. Scobee has hit all four of his field goal attempts and has scored all the Jaguars points.
The Jaguars picked off the Ravens on the ensuing possession and appear poised to beat the Ravens and pick up their second win of the season. The credit goes to the defense and the kicker.
This week's edition of Monday Night Football has been a miserable affair, in part because Joe Flacco has been utterly and completely awful. But in the final minutes, he's starting to show some life, finding Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone for a five-yard touchdown, briefly cutting Jacksonville's lead to 9-7.
The touchdown was nice, but Flacco's catch to rookie receiver Torrey Smith on the previous play was even nicer. Watch how Smith just barely hauls it in, setting up Baltimore's first score of the game:
He was clearly in bounds, but even if Jack Del Rio wanted to challenge the play, he couldn't, thanks to an inexplicable failed challenge earlier in quarter.
Given Flacco's horrible night, it's not just a little surprising that he came through in the clutch like this. To put things in perspective, 90 of his 137 passing yards on the night came on that drive. Despite his paltry yardage total, he's actually completed 21 of 36 attempts, including 10 on this final drive.
Baltimore's newfound luck didn't last long: the team was flagged on the ensuing onside kick for attempting touching the ball too soon. The Jaguars regained possession and -- wait for it -- kicked their fourth field goal of the night. The Jags lead 12-7 with fewer than two minutes left in the game.
The Ravens and Jaguars have decided not to participate in the "football" part of Monday Night Football, but at least Baltimore and Jacksonville are giving the national television audience some compelling feats of ineptitude.
After having already completing a pass to himself, Joe Flacco came up with the perfect encore. The Ravens quarterback stepped perilously close to stepping out of the back of the end zone, which would have been a self-imposed safety.
Check the animated GIF below. It's much better viewing than the actual game.
Monday Night Football only gets stinkers like tonight's Ravens-Jaguars futility-off every so often, so it's important to cherish every bit of misery Jon Gruden must "THIS GUY" through as dearly as possible. Joe Flacco completing a pass to himself would fall squarely into that category.
Flacco throws a pass that Jeremy Mincey bats right back into his hands, and then, smartly realizing that he cannot throw the ball again, scampers to the outside ... where he is easily taken down by another Jaguars defender.
The pass went for a loss of eight yards, and dropped Flacco's passing yardage on the night to a measly two yards. That's right: Flacco has thrown 12 passes, completing five, for a grand total of two yards. He is averaging a sixth of a yard — six inches — per attempt.
That led to fourth and 43, which looks like this.
To make matters worse for the Ravens, a Baltimore penalty set up the Jaguars up in Ravens territory, and Jacksonville turned it into a field goal that extended its lead to 6-0.
Neither team has a third down conversion in this game. Baltimore doesn't even have a first down. Save yourselves.
Points! The Jaguars managed to score the first points in this Monday Night Football game vs. the Ravens!
Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee is the hero of the national television audience after delivering on a 54-yard field goal with a little more than a minute left in the first quarter. The Jags lead 3-0 after the first quarter.
For the Jaguars, the key to breaking the scoreless tie was field position. The Jaguars started the drive on the Ravens' 33-yard line. This allowed Scobee a long field goal attempt even though the drive that set him up lasted just three plays and traveled backwards three yards. On third down, Blaine Gabbert took a sack from Terrell Suggs for a nine-yard loss, but it wasn't enough to keep the Jags off the board.
The Ravens and Jaguars have combined for three fumbles and zero scores through the first 10 minutes of play on Monday Night Football. The resulting video highlights so far are not of the fun or exciting variety.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has fumbled twice, the second time off a direct snap and just one yard outside the Ravens end zone. That fumble came after the Jaguars successfully converted on fourth-and-two inside the red zone. Naturally, that possession was set up by a Ray Rice fumble.
Here's video of the Jones-Drew folly:
It would have figured that the running game would factor into this contest, but not in this way. Jones-Drew entered Week 7 of the 2011 NFL season with the fourth highest average of rushing yards per game. Rice has also had a good season so far, entering Week 7 as the 11th-most productive running back in the NFL.
Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans is still out with an ankle injury that landed him among on Baltimore's inactive list for Monday Night Football vs. the Jaguars. Rookie cornerback and first-round pick Jimmy Smith has been activated for the first time since Week 1.
With Evans out, the Ravens will rely on rookie Torrey Smith. Last week, Smith had three catches for 84 yards. His best game this season came on Sept. 25 against the Rams when Smith had 152 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He could have a tougher time tonight against the Jaguars, who boast the ninth-best pass defense in the league.
The Jaguars are happy that Tyson Alualu will be active on the defensive line.
Get the full list of inactives for tonight's game at NFL.com.
The Baltimore Ravens visit Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars on Monday Night Football, and it looks like a gimme for the visitors. But can the Ravens cover the spread? Plus a look at some of Monday Night's best prop bets.
All content comes courtesy of SB Nation's odds partners at OddsShark.com.
The Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars continue down a line of unsexy Monday Night Football games as Ray Rice and his band of brothers head down to Florida to visit Blaine Gabbert. The Week 7 NFL picks seem to favor the Ravens, not surprisingly, as Gabbert, Maurice Jones-Drew and the rest of the crew were shut out in this week's predictions.
SB Nation's Andrew Sharp predicts Baltimore will cover the nine point spread and that the Ravens are going to run away with their Monday Night Football affair, CBS Sports has the Ravens in a sweep on their picks for the week and the entire panel of ESPN experts -- aside from Ron Jaworski -- decided that the away team would win. Peter King of Sports Illustrated has the Ravens, too, as he compared the Jaguars to a junior varsity team.
The Ravens are in the JV part of their schedule -- Houston (minus Mario Williams and Andre Johnson) last week, the Jags this week, feeble Arizona next Sunday -- but then, in 19 days, they're at Pittsburgh, then take a 2,550-mile jaunt out to Seattle, then have the suddenly formidable Bengals and 49ers in a five-day span at home. They can't afford a letdown in these next two if they want to win the AFC North and hope to get a playoff bye.
For more on the Ravens, be sure to check out Baltimore Beat Down. The Jacksonville Jaguars also have a bustling blogging community at Big Cat Country. Make sure to check out all of this week's NFL picks and predictions as well.
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