JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone heard about Vontaze Burfict’s comments earlier in the week and went straight to quarterback Blake Bortles.
Marrone wanted to make sure Bortles didn’t press.
“Hey listen, don’t get crazy. Just go out and play the game,” Marrone said, recalling the conversation. “You owe it to all your teammates. Your teammates got to pick it up. We’ve all got to play this game together as a team. I thought he did a good job of that. I was a little bit concerned, just like if someone says something about me, you know what I’m saying?
“I would want to go out there and try to prove myself or maybe force some things, and I just thought he played well.”
Bortles handled it even better than Marrone had hoped. Bortles threw for 259 yards and a touchdown in a 23-7 victory against Burfict and the Cincinnati Bengals (3-5) on Sunday. Bortles didn’t have a turnover and didn’t get sacked — just the fourth time he’s done that in 53 career starts.
He was probably far better than Burfict expected, too.
The outspoken linebacker made headlines this week by saying, “I’m not sure Blake can beat us. We want to put it in his hands and have him beat us, if he can.”
Bortles responded on the field, helping the Jaguars (5-3) win consecutive games for the first time in 13 months and win at EverBank Field for the first time since last December.
“I think Cincinnati has a bit of a reputation for the type of guys they are and I think you saw a little bit of that today,” Bortles said. “I thought we did a good job playing as hard as we possibly can between the whistles and beating the crap out of them.”
Here are some other things we learned about the Bengals and Jaguars:
FIGHT, FIGHT: Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey started yapping on the first series and ended up scrapping just before halftime.
The often-composed Green retaliated against the trash-talking Ramsey after the defender pushed Green to the ground at the end of a running play. Green grabbed Ramsey around the neck and slammed him to the ground. Green then delivered numerous punches to Ramsey’s helmet — never the smartest idea — and put another MMA-style choke hold on Ramsey. It was the kind of aggressive attack that could lead to league discipline, maybe even a suspension.
“As a player, as a man, and a father, that’s a reflection of me,” Green said. “I should have walked off in that whole situation. I definitely learned from this experience. It’s never going to happen again. I regret my actions. Whatever the punishment, I accept it. I put myself in that situation.”
Referee Brad Allen said officials warned Green and Ramsey earlier in the game. Allen said Ramsey was ejected for instigating the fight, and Green was tossed for throwing punches.
Ramsey was not in the locker room after the game, but his teammates were disappointed he got tossed.
“Jalen put that dog on him, and he didn’t know how to respond to it,” fellow cornerback Aaron Colvin said.
AWFUL AGAIN: The Bengals were worse offensively against Jacksonville than they were in the first two games of the season, a stretch that got offensive coordinator Ken Zampese fired.
They finished with a season-low 148 yards. It was the team’s worst output since a 27-0 drubbing at Indianapolis in 2014 in which Cincy managed 135 yards. The Bengals might not have reached the end zone Sunday had it not been for a 59-yard pass play from Andy Dalton to Tyler Kroft during which two defenders collided while trying to make the tackle. Rookie Joe Mixon scored two plays later.
Jacksonville dominated from there, controlling the ball for more than 40 minutes in a game that could have been more lopsided.
“Obviously we’re not executing at the level that we want to,” Dalton said. “We need to play better, and it starts with the mentality of knowing that you’re going to play better, and telling yourself, and trusting the guy next to you.”
THIRD-DOWN DIFFERENCE: Both coaches pointed to third downs as the difference in the game, and for good reason. Cincinnati was 1 for 8 on third down, and Jacksonville was 12 of 18.
FOURNETTE OUT: Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette was inactive for violating a team rule. It’s unclear what Fournette did to draw Marrone’s punishment. Marrone said he expects Fournette to play next week against the Los Angeles Chargers.
HOSPITAL VISIT: Bengals right tackle Jake Fisher was taken to a local hospital with an undisclosed illness.
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