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Ravens top Jags to keep pace in AFC playoff race

Dec 14, 2014 - 11:51 PM Baltimore, MD ( - Joe Flacco threw for 221 yards with a touchdown and the Baltimore defense kept Jacksonville out of the end zone, as the Ravens strengthened their playoff hopes with a 20-12 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens (9-5) also scored on a blocked punt and picked up their second straight win to remain in contention for the AFC North title. Baltimore trails first-place Cincinnati by one-half game after the Bengals blanked the Browns on Sunday to reach 9-4-1. Pittsburgh also kept pace in the tight race and improved to 9-5 with a win over Atlanta on Sunday.

"We didn't play smart all the time. We had too many mistakes, too many errors that kept us off the field or put our defense back on the field, those kind of things," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "But Jacksonville did a good job. That's a good young football team, especially on defense. That defense is salty and they get after you."

Josh Scobee kicked four field goals to account for the entire offensive output for Jacksonville (2-12), which has lost two in a row.

Blake Bortles threw for 210 yards with an interception for the Jaguars. He was also sacked eight times by a swarming Baltimore defense that limited Jacksonville to 248 total yards.

The Ravens trailed 12-10 at the intermission and took the lead for good with their second possession of the second half, marching 80 yards on six plays. Flacco completed each of his five passes during the quick set, finishing it with a 3-yard strike to a wide open Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone.

Jacksonville resorted to some trickery on its next possession, as a fake punt was successful and set up a first down just across midfield, but the Ravens stiffened and this time forced the Jaguars to punt it away.

Justin Tucker hit the left upright a 54-yard field goal try with 8 1/2 minutes left in the fourth and the Jaguars were unable to mount a threat with their next two possessions.

After punting the ball away with 6 1/2 minutes to play, the Jaguars got the ball back at midfield a little more than a minute later following a Baltimore punt. The Jaguars picked up 12 yards on the first play, but could not go much farther as Bortles' 4th-and-9 pass was caught by Cecil Shorts out of bounds.

A 10-yard run by Flacco on 3rd-and-5 allowed the Ravens to keep possession and drain more time off the clock. A 28-yard burst by Bernard Pierce on the next play helped set up a 33-yard Tucker field goal to make it 20-12 with 1:11 remaining.

Bortles was intercepted by Jeromy Miles on a fourth-down heave with 16 seconds remaining to seal the contest.

"Coming into this environment, (against) a playoff team, a team that plays as physical as they do, I thought our defense played extremely well," said Jaguars coach Gus Bradley. "To come in their house and play like they did, hats off to our defense."

The Ravens took 7-0 lead with a special teams touchdown, as Darian Stewart burst through the middle of the line and blocked Bryan Anger's punt after Jacksonville's first series. Kamar Aiken picked up the ball at the 11-yard line and trotted into the end zone.

Jacksonville came right back and answered with a 53-yard Scobee field goal, then marched inside the Baltimore 10 with its next series. However, a pair of sacks pushed the Jaguars back to the 27 and forced a 45-yard Scobee kick to make it 7-6 late in the first quarter.

The Ravens turned it over early in the second when Kyle Juszczyk fumbled after a short reception. Jacksonville took over at the Baltimore 33, but went backward from there and had to settle for another 53-yard Scobee field goal to grab a 9-7 lead.

A surprise onside kick was recovered by the Jaguars, who managed to pick up one first down before Scobee missed from 42 yards to keep it a two-point game. Baltimore then regained the lead on the next offensive series when Tucker kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:45 left in the first half.

Tucker was short with a 54-yard kick with 40 seconds remaining and Bortles completed a pair of passes to move the Jaguars into position for a 45-yard boot from Scobee to take a 12-10 lead into the break.

Game Notes

The Ravens blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown for the first time since Ed Reed accomplished the feat in 2003 ... Baltimore's Steve Smith Sr. finished with five catches and recorded his 900th career reception early in the second half ... Baltimore's Elvis Dumervil notched one sack and tied his career high with 17 in a season ... Baltimore safety Terrence Brooks left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and cornerback Asa Jackson was helped off the field in the third quarter with a knee injury.