Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bortles Bounces Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bortles Bounces Back

Article excerpt

Byline: John Reid

Blake Bortles has been doubted, benched and was forced to win back his starting job before the start of the regular season.

He had that five-interception practice in July on the first day in pads. And last week in the home opener at EverBank Field, he couldn't move the offense downfield until after the Jaguars trailed the Tennessee Titans 30-3.

But there's something else you should know about Bortles. He didn't have a performance in any game last season like he enjoyed on Sunday in the Jaguars' 44-7 victory against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London.

He completed 65 percent (20 of 31) of his passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against one of the NFL's top defenses. In the first half, the Jaguars outgained the Ravens, 262-15.

Also, Bortles' 128.2 passer rating was the sixth-highest in the NFL on Sunday and the second-highest in his career.

What a difference a week makes. Bortles' 63.7 rating last week against the Titans was the sixth-lowest in the league during Week 2.

"Felt comfortable all week with the package that we had put together as a group," Bortles said. Thought [offensive coordinator] Nathaniel [Hackett] did a good job calling the game, like you said. Made plays when we had the opportunities to."

For a change, the Jaguars (2-1) opened up the offense and Bortles threw downfield a few times instead of exclusively relying on safe completions on crossing routes and short and immediate passes. He completed passes to nine different players.

Before Sunday, tight end Marcedes Lewis hadn't caught a pass. Against the Ravens, he surpassed his touchdown total for the last three seasons with a career-high three on Sunday.

"I thought up front they did an unbelievable job both in pass protection and in the run game. I thought our backs did a good job, and I thought Marcedes obviously had a big day with three touchdowns," Bortles said. …

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