Long after the game was over, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis sat in front of his locker in full uniform, too disgusted and disappointed to move.
There might come a day when Lewis and the Ravens celebrate a victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. At this point, they can do little more than come tantalizingly close.
James Stewart scored on a 4-yard run with 1:39 left as the Jaguars used a 23-point fourth quarter to record their franchise-record eighth straight victory, 30-23.
"This was a gut-check game for us. When things weren't going pretty good, it looked like they had our number," quarterback Mark Brunell said.
Jacksonville (10-1) trailed 16-7 after three periods and 23-22 with 6:26 remaining, but Brunell went 10-for-13 for 125 yards in the final 15 minutes and finished 27-for-47 for 338 yards and two touchdowns.
Two weeks ago, the Ravens held Brunell and the Jaguars to a franchise-low 132 yards, 256 fewer than they had Sunday. Jacksonville won 6-3, but Baltimore was never out of it.
The Ravens once again gave the AFC Central leaders all they could handle, although that didn't make the defeat any easier to stomach.
"There are no moral victories in the NFL. I've got all the character I need," coach Brian Billick said.
"It's like they just know they can beat us," Baltimore running back Errict Rhett said. "We've got to change that attitude."
The Ravens (4-7) were in command until a pivotal 16-second span of the fourth qurter.
Down 16-7, the Jaguars began their comeback when Brunell converted a third-and-16 play with a 24-yard completion to Keenan McCardell. Four plays later, Brunell hit McCardell for a 1-yard score with 11 minutes left.
On first down from the 20, a pressured Tony Banks threw an ill-advised screen pass that Tony Brackens intercepted and took 15 yards for a touchdown. The conversion pass made it 22-16 with 10:44 left, shifting the pressure to Baltimore.
After an exchange of punts, the Ravens moved to the Jacksonville 3 on a 46-yard pass from Banks to Jermaine Lewis. Chuck Evans caught a 3-yard touchdown pass on the next play to put Baltimore back in front.
But when the Ravens play Jacksonville, no lead is safe. This was no exception.
Brunell took the Jaguars 78 yards in 12 plays, converting a fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 34 along the way, before Stewart plowed into the end zone.
Banks went 17-for-34 for 214 yards and two touchdowns, but his lone interception fueled the Jaguars' comeback and his 51st career fumble deep in Jacksonville territory killed a promising second-quarter drive with Baltimore up 10-0.
The Ravens needed only three plays to move 87 yards and take a 7-0 lead. Qadry Ismail caught a sideline pass, fumbled near midfield and teammate Patrick Johnson took the ball to the 26.
Two plays later, Rhett scored on a screen pass that covered 20 yards, making Baltimore the first team to record a touchdown on its opening drive against the Jaguars in 29 games since December 1997.
"We gave them 14 points on turnovers. That was the game," Banks said. "We didn't put the nail in the coffin early."
Late in the half, the Ravens moved 67 yards on 12 plays before Stover kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Brunell threw two interceptions in the third quarter, but he ore than made up for it down the stretch.
Smith caught 10 passes for 132 yards and McCardell had eight catches for 102 yards, the first receivers to top 100 yards against Baltimore this season.
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