JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Blake Bortles made sure Vontaze Burfict would eat his words, then happily pronounced that his Jaguars "beat the crap out of" the Bengals in a 23-7 victory Sunday.
"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."
— Brian Chojnacki (@BroadcastingBri) November 5, 2017
Burfict made headlines last 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."
But Bortles was better than Burfict expected, throwing for 259 yards and a touchdown in leading the Jaguars (5-3) to consecutive wins for the first time in 13 months.
Bortles didn't have a turnover and didn't get sacked — just the fourth time he's done that in 53 career starts.
Meanwhile, the Bengals (3-5) managed only one score and left their season on life support.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he heard about Burfict's comments earlier in the week and went straight to Bortles to tell him not to 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."
Here are some other things we learned about the Bengals and Jaguars:
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 three-year low of 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."
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.
Jaydon Mickens delivered the knockout blow by returning a punt 63 yards for a touchdown. Mickens sweaved across the field for a touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter. It was the big play Jacksonville needed for its first winning streak of the season.
Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette was inactive for violating a team rule. Jacksonville made the surprise announcement 90 minutes before kickoff. It’s unclear what Fournette did to draw coach Doug Marrone’s punishment.
“This has been addressed internally and further details will not be made public,” Marrone said.
Fournette leads the team with 596 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He missed Jacksonville’s last game, two weeks ago at Indianapolis, because of a sprained right ankle, But he practiced all week and had been scheduled to return against the Bengals.
Bengals: Starting right tackle Jake Fisher was taken to a local hospital with an undisclosed illness. ... Nose tackle Pat Sims left in the first quarter with a right calf injury and did not return. ... Running back Jeremy Hill, who started the first seven games, was scratched because of an ankle injury. Hill was not on the injury report all week.
Jaguars: Left tackle Cam Robinson reinjured his left ankle, but returned to the game. ... Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. injured his right elbow but returned.
Bengals: Wrap up a three-game stretch against the AFC South by playing Tennessee. It’s the second of three consecutive road games.
Jaguars: Host the Los Angeles Chargers, who have won six in a row in the series. Jacksonville’s last victory against the Chargers came in 2007, the last time the Jags made the playoffs.