Baltimore — The Jacksonville Jaguars, who are preparing to play the top-seeded New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC title game, figure to conjure memories of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens team that bullied its way to the organization’s first Super Bowl championship.
From a highly scrutinized game-managing quarterback to a powerful and precocious rookie running back to a fast-playing and tough-talking defense, the teams certainly share a few prominent similarities.
It starts at quarterback, as the Ravens’ Trent Dilfer and the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles led run-oriented attacks and were tasked to minimize mistakes and play a ball-control game. Both faced questions about whether they could lead a team on a deep playoff run.
In both cases, their best offensive player was a first-year running back. Jamal Lewis rushed for 1,364 yards and six touchdowns while leading a ground attack that ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (137.4). The Jaguars’ Leonard Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards and scored 10 touchdowns while missing three games. Jacksonville led the league in rushing yards per game with an average of 141.4.
On defense, the 2000 Ravens were stingier, especially against the run. They ranked second in yards allowed per game (247.9), eighth against the pass (187.3), first against the run (60.6) and first in points allowed per game (10.3). They were also 22nd in sacks (35) and first in caused turnovers (49). By just about every measure, it was one of the best defenses in league history.
The Jaguars can boast of having one of the top defenses this year, although they are susceptible to big plays. They finished the regular season second in yards allowed per game (286.1), first against the pass (169.9), 21st against the run (116.3) and second in points allowed per game (16.8). They also were second in the league in sacks (55) and forced turnovers (33).
The Patriots say quarterback Tom Brady did not attend a news conference Wednesday because he was meeting with the team medical staff for a right hand injury.
... Jags safety Tashaun Gipson and guard Patrick Omameh missed practice Wednesday.
Associated Press contributed.
Jaguars at Patriots
Kickoff: 3:05 p.m. Sunday, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Line: Patriots by 9