Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/25/11
They say defense wins championshipsin the NFL. And though the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't likely to compete for a title anytime soon, their defense played like a group that could on Monday night,leading the way during a stunning 12-7 win over the heavily favored BaltimoreRavens. The improbable victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Jaguars, whohadn't won since Week 1, dropped the Ravens to 4-2 on the season, and gaverookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert his first career win and a shot of confidencethat he desperately needed. But it wasn't about Gabbert and the offense this time around at EverBank Field.Heck, if you looked at the box score, you'd think the offenses on bothsidelines just decided not to show up at all. Instead, it was all about the D, and in the end, Jacksonville's rebuiltdefensive front proved to be the best unit on the field. All night long, the Jaguars defense was impenetrable like a brick wallagainst Baltimore's relentless, but futile, gusts of wind including a stellarfirst half in which Jacksonville didn't allow a single Ravens first down, muchless a score. In fact, the Jaguars allowed only 16 yards of offense in the half the lowestyard total in an NFL first half since January 2010, when the Cincinnati Bengalshad just seven yards of offense in the first two quarters of a 37-0 loss to theNew York Jets while holding quarterback Joe Flacco to just one net yardpassing on 16 attempts. The Ravens didn't even move the chains for the first time until the 5:27 markof the third quarter, when Ray Rice scampered 12 yards for a first down onthird-and-1 from the Baltimore 29. Unfortunately for the Ravens, that driveended like most of the others with no points. However, the Jacksonville offense wasn't much better, and the Jags' inabilityto move the ball kept the game interesting. The Jaguars had just four firstdowns of their own in the first half, and Gabbert had just 23 net passing yardson 12 attempts in the first two quarters. Jacksonville's best chance at reaching the end zone came midway through thefirst quarter, when the Jags moved the ball down to the Ravens' 3-yard lineafter recovering a Ray Rice fumble at the Baltimore 34. But on first-and-goal, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew coughed the ballup just short of the goal line, squandering a rare scoring chance and handingthe ball back to the Ravens. The only points of the night for the Jaguars came off the strong foot of JoshScobee, who booted a field goal in each quarter, a 54-yarder in the first, a54-yarder in the second, a 22-yarder in the third and a 51-yarder that sealedthe game with 1:48 left to play. And when it was all said and done, Jacksonville had 205 yards of offense, whileBaltimore totaled just 146. It was so bad for the Ravens on Monday night that even when things went theirway they didn't go well. Early in the fourth quarter, after the Jaguars had downed a punt inside theBaltimore 1-yard line, Jacksonville safety Dwight Lowery was called for a50-yard pass interference penalty that moved the ball into Jaguars territoryfor just the second time all night. But after two negative plays and an illegal formation penalty, Baltimore founditself facing a third-and-31 which, remarkably, wasn't their longest of thenight (they faced fourth-and-43 in the second quarter) and Sam Koch trottedout onto the field for his ninth and final punt of the evening. Baltimore eventually got on the board with 2:02 left in the game, as Flaccocapped a 13-play, 90-yard drive against Jacksonville's prevent defense with atouchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. But the Ravens were unable to recover the ensuing onside kick, and four playslater Scobee's final field goal made the score 12-7. On the Ravens' final drive, Jacksonville cornerback Drew Coleman interceptedFlacco, providing what felt like a fitting end to Baltimore's slim hopes at arally. The Jags' nationally televised victory wasn't a thing of beauty in fact, itwas very much the opposite but it was a win over a superior opponent, and, moreimportantly, it gave Jacksonville an opportunity to finally breathe a sigh ofrelief and focus on getting better going forward. As bad as they've been all season, the Jaguars are still sitting only two gamesout of first place in the competitive AFC South, and while the offense is stilltrying to find its way, Jacksonville has at least learned that when all elsefails and it did Monday night it can still trust its defense.
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