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Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens take to air in win over Jacksonville Jaguars

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens did just about everything they set out to do in their most significant game of the preseason.

In the process, they provided the Jacksonville Jaguars with a harsh taste of reality.

Joe Flacco completed 27 of 36 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns before leaving early in the third quarter, and Baltimore cruised to a 48-17 victory Thursday night.

Because the Ravens will likely rest their starters during most of next week's preseason finale, this game served as the final tuneup for the regular season. Baltimore wanted to finish drives with touchdowns and shore up a defense that was burned for 507 yards by Detroit just six days earlier.

And that is precisely what happened.

Flacco connected with nine receivers, most notably second-year wideout Torrey Smith, who finished with eight catches for 103 yards. Anquan Boldin caught a 5-yard TD pass and Vonta Leach scored on an 8-yard reception.

"Joe put up some good numbers there for three quarters, and the red-zone defense was really good," coach John Harbaugh said. "We finished things. That's the one thing we've been striving for. We finished catches. We finished runs. We finished drives for the most part."

Baltimore amassed 571 yards in total offense and had five drives of at least 80 yards. The 48 points were the most ever scored by the Ravens in a preseason game.

With support from a defense that kept Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert in check, the Ravens built a 20-3 lead before Flacco took a seat.

"The first two games didn't go the way we wanted, but we were just warming up," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "We came into this game looking to handle our business."

The only downer was injuries to backup safeties Emanuel Cook (broken leg) and Sean Considine (concussion).

After opening the preseason with wins over the New York Giants and New Orleans, Jacksonville took a huge step back against the Ravens. Gabbert went 11 for 21 for 117 yards over three quarters, and Rashad Jennings, starting in place of holdout Maurice Jones-Drew, gained 57 yards on 13 carries.

"Maybe that is what we needed, to have that bad a feeling, even in a preseason game," coach Mike Mularkey said. "This is why we play exhibition games. This will be a true test of this team to see how we bounce back from this. I am anxious to see how this team responds after getting pounded like we did. In all three phases, we didn't do the things we needed to do."

Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis played for the first time this summer following knee surgery, but Jaguars cornerback Aaron Ross was forced from the game with an ankle injury and tight end Zach Miller left in the second quarter with an injured leg.

Fortunately, the Jaguars still have one preseason game left before the opener against Minnesota.

"You can't go into the season feeling the way we do now," Gabbert said. "This one leaves a nasty, nasty taste in your mouth. You never want to lose a game like this, even if it isn't the regular season."

Against the Giants and Saints, Gabbert drove the Jaguars (2-1) to a touchdown on their opening possession. In this one, Jacksonville started on its own 5 after a Ravens punt and made only one first down - on a 16-yard completion to first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon -- before kicking the ball away.

Ray Rice began the subsequent drive with a 28-yard run, but the march stalled inside the 10 before rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 33-yard field goal. It was an unfulfilling score for the Ravens (2-1), who were intent upon improving their inability to get touchdowns when inside the 20.

That shortcoming would be resolved in Baltimore's third drive. Flacco went 8 for 9 for 87 yards and made it 10-0 with a touchdown throw to Boldin.

The march started with a 16-yard pass to Smith, who came up limping but returned later in the series and caught a key third-down pass. Smith missed last week's game with a sprained ankle.

Following another Jacksonville punt, Flacco went 5 for 5 on a 30-yard drive that ended with a 53-yard field goal by Tucker. In his effort to take the job from incumbent Billy Cundiff, Tucker has made all five of his field goal tries this preseason, including two from beyond 50 yards.

Gabbert finally got the Jaguars rolling late in the half, directing a 12-play, 73-yard march that produced a field goal with 56 seconds remaining.

On their first possession of the second half, the Ravens moved 80 yards to take a 20-3 lead. Flacco went 7 for 9 for 70 yards, completing passes of 7, 32 and 8 yards to Smith before concluding his night with a TD toss to Leach.

"We felt good, and we had a good rhythm going," Flacco said. "There was still one drive there where we would have liked to finish off with a touchdown rather than a field goal. Overall, though, it was a pretty good night."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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