JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It was an epic meltdown for the Baltimore Ravens, an absolute debacle, an ugly display of football virtually unmatched in the John Harbaugh era.
And the entire nation was watching Monday night, witnesses to the Ravens’ ineptitude headlined by a brutally bad offense that was incapable of manufacturing any semblance of a threatening attack until the final minutes.
The Ravens lost 12-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field, appearing completely flat and uncertain of what to do offensively.
They didn’t even gain a first down until late in the third quarter and set a franchise worst with only 16 net yards in the first half.
"It’s about as bad as you can play on offense," Harbaugh said. "I don’t know if you can play any worse than that until the last one drive. If we don’t get the consistency on offense, we’re not going anywhere.
"You can’t play like we played tonight on offense and expect to accomplish anything. We all know it. We got our butts handed to us in that sense, and we’ll go back to work just like we always do."
If not for a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Anquan Boldin with two minutes remaining, the Ravens would have been blanked completely.
The Ravens (4-2) fell to a reeling Jacksonville (2-5) squad that entered the game on a five-game losing streak.
This nearly marked the first time Baltimore had failed to score in a game since a 25-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 15, 2002.
The Ravens gained only 146 yards of total offense, 42 yards short of the club’s all-time single-game mark for fewest yards gained.
"It was bad football for most of the game," Flacco said. "We had probably had a three-minute span where we played all right. That’s a pretty bad percentage when it’s a 60-minute football game."
The Ravens initially thought they had executed a successful onside kick on the ensuing kickoff as safety Haruki Nakamura snared the football in the air. However, it was determined that the ball didn’t travel the required 10 yards and Baltimore was penalized.
And Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee knocked in his fourth field goal for the final margin, connecting on a 51-yarder with 1:43 remaining.
After the field goal, Flacco was intercepted by Jaguars defensive back Drew Coleman to end the Ravens’ comeback attempt.
Appearing to be confused and suffocated by the Jaguars’ relentless defense, Flacco completed only 21 of 38 passes for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 61.0 passer rating.
"You got to play well, you got to do things right and execute," said Flacco, who was sacked three times. "We don’t need a wake-up call. We’re really not a team that needs that. That’s tough to explain, but we have a great group of guys in there. We just didn’t play well tonight."
It was a terrible enough performance that it likely prompted many viewers to switch the channel to take in the World Series or whatever else was on television Monday.
The Ravens managed to lose this game despite a defense that limited the Jaguars to four Scobee field goals, which represented all their scoring in this Monday night stinker.
"You have to give them credit," Boldin said. "They played like it was their Super Bowl."
In the first half, the Ravens had zero first downs and only 16 yards of total offense on 25 offensive plays. They finished with one net passing yard in the first half.
And Rice, Ricky Williams and Vonta Leach combined for just 15 rushing yards on eight carries, a 1.9 average.
Rice finished the game with a season-low 28 yards on eight carries, losing one fumble.
Were the Ravens overconfident?
"Oh no, I don’t think we took these guys lightly," free safety Ed Reed said. "I know defensively we didn’t take these guys lightly. We just need to make corrections. Every game is not perfect. Jacksonville played their hardest. We knew what they were going to do on Monday night. You’re going to defend your turf. Every man is accountable for their actions."
The Ravens’ first 11 drives didn’t amount to much at all, generating nine punts, a lost fumble and a missed field goal from kicker Billy Cundiff from 52 yards out.
A prime example of the ugliness: Flacco actually completed a pass to himself when his throw was batted back into his hands.
He lost eight yards on the 3rd-and-35 play when he was decked by linebacker Paul Posluszny.
How did the Ravens get into a 3rd-and-35 situation? Offensive tackle Michael Oher was flagged for holding twice on the drive.
Flacco completed only 6 of his first 16 throws for eight yards, outdueled by Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Jones-Drew rushed for 105 yards on 30 carries, becoming the first back to hit the century mark against the Ravens this season and the first to rush for 100 yards against Baltimore since Houston Texans star running back Arian Foster last December.
Gabbert wasn’t much better than Flacco, but at least he avoided turnovers despite being sacked four times. The rookie first-round draft pick finished 9 for 20 for 93 yards.
The Ravens and Jaguars exchanged fumbles in the first quarter as Rice and Jones-Drew both lost their grip on the football.
First, Rice ran into the back of offensive guard Marshal Yanda to knock the ball loose with cornerback Rashean Mathis pouncing on the fumble.
Then, Jones-Drew got the football ripped out of his hands by defensive tackle Brandon McKinney with the fumble recovered by inside linebacker Jameel McClain.
The Ravens squandered the opportunity, though.
And the Jaguars capitalized despite losing three yards on their subsequent drive as Scobee booted a 54-yard field goal to stake Jacksonville to a 3-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Scobee knocked in another long-distance kick.
He hit his second 54-yard field goal to boost the Jaguars’ lead to six points.
That field goal was set up reserve outside linebacker Paul Kruger’s running into the kicker penalty on fourth down when he crashed into punter Nick Harris.
Later in the half, Jones-Drew fumbled again on a hard hit by strong safety Bernard Pollard that was recovered by cornerback Cary Williams.
However, the fumble was overturned on an instant-replay challenge.
The Jaguars’ most impressive drive was a 17-play, 76-yard march that lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds.
The drive was marred by a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on strong safety Bernard Pollard and reserve linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo being ejected for fighting after retaliating against Jaguars offensive tackle Guy Whimper.
The drive was capped by a 22-yard field goal by Scobee to stake the Jaguars to a 9-0 lead in the third quarter.
"They basically beat us with their defense," Harbaugh said. "I don’t think it was any one thing. It was a lack of execution."
The Ravens had trouble getting Boldin involved until the end of the game.
He finished with four receptions for 40 yards and the Ravens’ lone score, but was targeted a dozen times and got shut down for the most part by Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis.
"We can’t turn the ball over and can’t shoot ourselves in the foot," Boldin said. "Everybody in this locker room knows we have the talent. Our offense just didn’t get the job done.
"We’ve shown at times how good of an offense we can be. If we come out and play like we know how, there won’t be any problems."
Those problems, though, were on display immediately.
The Ravens had no first downs in the first quarter, generating just 14 yards of total offense on 13 plays as Flacco passed for only five yards and Rice gained five rushing yards and three carries.
Rice’s lost fumble marked his first in 522 touches in the regular season, snapping the longest streak in the league.
"When they’re struggling, we have to pick it up," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "We made enough big plays. I have some plays I’d like to have back myself."
Now, the Ravens will look to regroup next Sunday at home against a reeling Arizona Cardinals team.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who criticized offensive coordinator Cam Cameron because of Rice’s lack of involvement, said the Ravens can’t afford this kind of setback.
"I don’t like to lose," Suggs said. "We let one get away. Whatever happens from here on out is our own fault. So, if we don’t get a first round bye, it’s our own fault."