By Adesina O. Koiki
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense has sent strong messages of their dominance across the league for the first half of the season, and that did not change one bit on Sunday.
However, the Jaguars’ star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a key member of that defense, took “sending a message” to an extreme, which could lead to him missing time on the football field in the near future.
Jacksonville allowed only 148 total yards with most of that effort coming after Ramsey was ejected for fighting, as the Jaguars defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7 at EverBank Field. With this win, the Jaguars record is now 5-3, a mark the team hasn’t achieved since 2007 – the last time the team appeared in the playoffs.
The Jaguars have held their opponents to under 250 yards of total offense for the third consecutive game and for the fifth time this season, with today’s effort being their high watermark so far.
What made the task of stopping the Bengals’ offense easier was the dismissal of Ramsey and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, when tempers flared between them during a play late in the second quarter, and quickly escalated into a fight after Green put Ramsey in a chokehold, pulled him to the ground and threw a few punches at him as players tried to break them apart.
Both players were ejected from the game and the league announced two days later that neither player will be disciplined.
Prior to the start of the game, another key Jaguars player, rookie running back Leonard Fournette, was suspended for one game due to a team rule violation. With the absence of Fournette who is sixth in the league with 596 yards rushing, the Jaguars continued to maintain a ball-controlled, grind-it-out game plan. Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon combined for 31 carries and 101 yards, while quarterback Blake Bortles chipped in with 20 rushing yards as Jacksonville controlled the ball for more than 40 minutes.
Through the air, Bortles had another efficient game, completing 24-of-38 passes for 259 yards while being turnover free. His three-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee with 6:57 left in the second quarter gave the Jaguars a 10-0 lead.
Cincinnati came into the game ranked 30th out of 32 teams in total offense and were up against the sixth-ranked Jags defense. The Bengals managed just eight first downs in the entire game, with their only touchdown set up by a 59-yard catch-and-run from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to tight end Tyler Kroft, a play in which Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack and safety Barry Church collided into one another while trying to tackle Kroft. Bengals running back Joe Mixon scored on a run from seven yards three plays later to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 10-7 with 4:13 left in the second quarter.
Two more Jags field goals – one late in the second quarter and one early in the third – by Josh Lambo, who signed with the team on October17, gave the Jaguars a 16-7 advantage going into the final stanza. Jacksonville put the game away on special teams early in the fourth quarter, as wide receiver Jaydon Mickens returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown to provide the final margin (23-7).
While the Bengals offense generated just eight first downs for the entire game, by comparison, Jacksonville had 26 first downs, aided by converting 12 of their 18 third-down attempts.
The Jaguars face the Los Angeles Chargers at home this Sunday, November 12.