A crowd of almost 85,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium, setting a record attendance for the NFL International Series games. They saw probably the most one-sided contest ever played at Wembley, with the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the Baltimore Ravens 44-7. They also saw Blake Bortles reach some kind of redemption, throwing for 244 yards and four touchdowns.
Record International Series Attendance Sees Redemption of Blake Bortles
His throwing motion might always be cause for concern, but today, Bortles proved that he’s capable of leading an offense. Jacksonville ran hard and ran early. Most first down plays were runs. This opened up the play action pass, which Bortles used to perfection.
Bortless looked calm and composed, stepping up into the pocket and hitting Marqise Lee perfectly on their first drive. It resulted in only a field goal, but the tone was set. For the rest of the half, the Jags handed off on first down, and ran a play action pass on second. It worked almost every time. Marcedes Lewis walked in for the opening touchdown from 17 yards following a brilliant double-play-action. Bortles first faked the hand-off, before faking the end-around, then tossing a perfect pass to a wide open Lewis to make it 10-0 Jacksonville.
Defense Also Dominates
The pattern was set. Baltimore looked deflated and low on energy on offense. They couldn’t move the ball on first or second downs, and the Jaguars third down pass rush was immense. Dante Fowler Jr and Calais Campbell looked great. Abry Jones and Malik Jackson were tough on the interior. In fact, Jackson was huge in the pass rush as well as the run game.
Behind the front four, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack dominated the middle of the field. They tackled well and covered the short passing routes brilliantly, and ensured that Joe Flacco had no safety valve available.
The Jaguars were so dominant, it took until the last four minutes of the half before the Ravens had a first down. In the entirety of the first half, they managed just one first down. Jacksonville owned a 256-15 edge in total yards. This was absolute destruction on both sides of the ball.
And through it all, Bortles played with poise and control. He looked like he understood the offense. His passes had touch. Bortles himself agreed, saying after the game “I felt comfortable all week with the packages we were putting in. We made plays when we had the opportunities.”
Fournette helps of course. He runs with violence, dragging defenders with him and forcing teams to respect the run. He finally scored the touchdown he deserved at the start of the fourth quarter, barreling in behind the left side of his line. This made the score an insane 44-0.
No Let-Up In The Second Half
Behind 23-0 at half time, the Ravens came out and immediately tried to challenge the Jaguars. Nothing they tried worked. First up, Flacco – playing more like Bortles than Bortles himself – threw a pass slightly too flat. Jalen Ramsey made an awesome diving play on the ball, coming up with the interception. Marcedes Lewis ran a simple seam route, and of course Bortles found him perfectly for the touchdown.
Then, boosted down the field by penalties, the Ravens gave the ball to Terrance West. Perhaps slightly too pumped up after an earlier run, West was hit hard and fumbled. The ball was picked up by Telvin Smith and returned inside the five. Bortles threw a fade pass with impressive touch, and Lewis was just too big and too strong, coming down with the ball for another score.
If everything the Ravens tried seemed to fail, everything Jacksonville did seemed to work. On 4th and 11, then even ran a fake punt, gaining almost 50 yards and yet another first and goal. Fournette’s touchdown run opened the fourth quarter. In truth it was over as any kind of meaningful content a long time before. But if there was any doubt, the Ravens through in Ryan Mallett in place of Joe Flacco. There was still over 12 minutes to play in the game.
A Shocking Beatdown
The scale of this beatdown was shocking. Not even Jacksonville’s cheerleaders looked like they could believe it. But if you ask Bortles, this is going to be the first week of many. “There’s a bit of a stigma – the here we go again type thinking. This group handled it differently.” Bortles was careful to credit his defense post-game, not taking credit for the score. It showed a certain togetherness. Perhaps this season really will be different for the Jaguars.
To top it off, Chad Henne came in with 9:34 to play in the game. Not because Bortles had been so bad, but because he had been so good. Who saw that coming?