Jaguars 30, Ravens 3
-- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller looked like a beaten man as he stood in front of his locker after his team's 30-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. His eye black was smeared, his pants were grass-stained and his shirt was sweaty. His voice was flat as he answered questions about the Ravens' nonexistent offense and overall struggles.
"It's frustrating," Boller said. "That explains it all."
The 27-point defeat tied for the worst in Coach Brian Billick's six-plus seasons as coach. The Ravens are 2-7, the fewest wins through nine games in franchise history. They have not scored a touchdown in 11 quarters, and have reached the end zone only once in the past 19 quarters. The Jaguars (6-3) scored 30 points for the first time since the 2001 season, a span of 58 games.
Baltimore's offense crossed midfield only three times and gained a total of 163 yards, its worst showing of the season. Running back Jamal Lewis was held to 44 yards on 14 carries.
Even the Ravens' defense, which ranked second in the league entering the game, struggled. Baltimore used to be stingy against the run, but without middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who missed his third straight game with a thigh injury, the Jaguars gained 133 yards on the ground.
Second-year fullback Greg Jones, who got the bulk of the carries in place of the injured Fred Taylor (out with an ankle sprain), had a career day with 106 yards on 25 carries. Rookie wide receiver Matt Jones, a former college quarterback, caught five passes for 117 yards, including a pretty 32-yard touchdown catch in which he got behind the Ravens' defense.
"Of course there's frustration. You come to a point where you know you've got the talent, but talent without progress or talent without results doesn't mean anything," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, who was referring specifically to the offense but could have been talking about the team as a whole. "That's where we are right now, talent without progress. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you don't make any progress, it's for nothing."
Boller, who had not played in the past seven games because of a hyperextended big toe, was shaky in his first start since the season opener. He said that he felt great before the game; his arm was strong and his mobility was good. Boller started off well, leading the Ravens to a score (a 41-yard field goal from Matt Stover) on their first possession of the game and completing his first seven passes.
But he faltered as the game wore on, and the third-year starter wound up completing 19 of 33 passes for 142 yards and three interceptions. His final interception was returned 26 yards by linebacker Mike Peterson for the final touchdown of the game. It was the third touchdown scored against the Baltimore offense this season.
Boller was sacked four times and was shoved to the ground at least four other times. Three of the sacks came in the second quarter, and the last one was especially brutal; cornerback Terry Cousin smashed into Boller from the front while defensive end Bobby McCray crashed into him from the back.
"There was a lot of pressure out there and he was under some tough circumstances," Billick said of Boller. "The protection had something to do with it. We've got to get him protected better if we expect him to play better."
The Ravens trailed 10-3 at halftime but appeared to be fighting their way back into the game. Boller made a great throw over cornerback Rashean Mathis to hit Mason for a 35-yard gain that moved Baltimore to the Jaguars 15-yard line. But Boller's next two passes were incomplete, and then he was intercepted by Cousin at the 5-yard line.
That was the turning point of the game. The Jaguars drove 92 yards and scored on a one-yard run by Greg Jones to take a 17-3 lead. Byron Leftwich -- the quarterback the Ravens wanted to draft in 2003 before turning to Boller -- completed 5 of 6 passes for 72 yards on that drive, including a 36-yard toss to Matt Jones, who was a step ahead of cornerback Deion Sanders.
"This whole season for us has been [about] momentum. It seems like we've been running uphill the entire time," defensive end Anthony Weaver said. "We need to get a lead. I don't care how it happens -- defensive score, offensive score -- we need to get a lead and relieve some of that pressure and let it go."
The pressure won't let up over the next two weeks, as the Ravens face the top two teams in the AFC North. They host Pittsburgh next Sunday and then travel to Cincinnati. Billick gave the players an extra day off on Monday; they will try to regroup on their own and then reconvene on Wednesday to figure out how they're going to approach the Steelers.
"The reality of the situation is that we're not a very good football team," Weaver said. "Does that mean we're going to stop working? Does that mean we'll stop getting better? No. We just go back to work and try to get a win. Collectively, we all just need to get better. That's the only answer."
Ravens Note: Baltimore's secondary was depleted by injuries: safety Ed Reed (ankle), cornerback Dale Carter (thigh) and safety B.J. Ward (thigh) were inactive. As a result, the Ravens signed cornerback Zach Norton off of their practice squad Saturday and waived veteran tight end Terry Jones to make room on the roster.