The Jets have no one to blame for this loss but themselves, as they continuously shot themselves in the foot with countless penalties and struggles on third-down.
East Rutherford, N.J.-
Lightning storms may have delayed the start of game, but it was the combination of Baltimore’s defense and the Jets unforced errors that delayed the start of any type of offensive rhythm for the Jets.
Jet fans were as rowdy as ever entering the parking lot even through the worst of the storm and when the fans in the stadium were forced back to their seats they took their patented, J-E-T-S JETS! JETS! JETS!, chants to the tunnels.
Fireworks, sirens, and an explosion of excited cheers ripped through the air as the defense came running out of the tunnels for introduction, Jersey native Kyle Wilson had the loudest cheer, but then an even louder cheer for newcomer Cromartie, (those two would not be receiving many cheers from Jet fans after the game) followed by…… You should have to wait like everyone else had to wait. The announcer paused for a couple of seconds then announced number 24 Darreeeeeellle Reeeeevis, it wasn’t easy to hear since the announcer was drowned out by the sound of overly anxious fans rejoicing in having their All-World corner back on the field.
The Jets defense came out strong, displaying all the ferocity and intensity expected of them. On the Ravens first play from scrimmage Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas came rushing around the edges, easily brushing off their blockers, the two players seemingly merged into one as they sandwiched Flacco to the ground and sent the ball popping out and bouncing into the hands of Sione Pouha for the Jet’s first take-away of the game.
This no doubt, being their first defensive play of the season, had to have Ryan grinning ear-to-ear, unfortunately for the Jets they could only turn that into three-points as they failed to pick up a first down after the fumble, with Sanchez going one for two for six yards on the drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal off the foot of Nick Folk to give the Jets a 3-0 lead.
This was just the first of many missed opportunities that would come back to bit the Jets in the end. Against a defense as strong as the Ravens you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get and the Jets consistently threw those chances away like a dirty dishrag.
Adding injury to insult, all it took was six minutes of actual game-time to end Kris Jenkins’ night. As Jenkins tackled fullback Le’Ron McClain on a short gain, Jenkins silenced the boisterous crowd as he lay, hurt on the ground. The defense refused to fold, Raven’s quarterback Joe Flacco began to find some some success with throwing the ball, but the drive ended with Bart Scott and David Harris combining to tackle Willis McGahee with Scott forcing another fumble that found it’s way into Pouha’s humongous arms.
The Jet offense struggled to stretch the field all night long, early in the game they had a gorgeous 33 yard pass from Sanchez to Keller (which would of set them up on the three-yard line) that was negated because of an illegal shift penalty called on Braylon Edwards. The Jets bounced back, kind of, as they found some success running the ball. Then on third and seven, the Jets missed another opportunity to begin to really distance themselves from the Ravens.
Sanchez dropped back to pass, scanned around the field and didn’t see anything he liked, except for a gapping hole in the middle of the field. Sanchez tucked the ball and scrambled for the first-down marker. It looked like he had plenty of room to make it, but Sanchez picked that exact moment to listen to his coaches advice from last year, as he played it safe sliding to the turf. Even with the slide it looked as if Sanchez picked up the first-down, but a questionable spot from the refs forced the Jets to settle for another field goal from Nick Folk, this one from 28 yards, to give the Jets a 6-0 lead.
6-0 seemed good at the time, but clearly it wasn’t enough. The Jets needed to get a touchdown on at least one of those drives, but they didn’t and although no one was aware of it at the time that was the end of their chances of winning.
The Jets defense did it’s part, holding the Ravens to just one touchdown and one field goal, but they didn’t do a good enough job of keeping the Ravens offense off the field to save the struggling offense. The Ravens dominated the time of possession as they controlled the ball for more than 17 minutes more than the Jets. Time of possession was far from the Jets’ only problem.
The Jets killed themselves with penalties, earning 14 penalties to the Ravens five, for a total of 125 yards compared to just 38 yards for the Ravens. Then there was the difference in third-down conversions, the Jets ended the game 1-11 on third-down’s with that one coming on the last drive of the game, while the Ravens lived off of third-down chances ending the night 11-19 in third-down situations.
Really, it’s as simple as that. Sometimes you can look at the box score of a game and have no idea who outscored who, not this game. Any time you see a team get dominated that much in those three categories they are destined to lose the game.
When asked about all the penalties Rex Ryan said, “In the first half alone, I think we gave up five first downs on defense on holding calls, pass interference and all that kind of stuff. That’s not who we are or how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke. They just threw it up there – shoot, I don’t blame them. Hope for a completion or a penalty. We’ve got to do a better job than that, and I believe we will.” He better hope they do and he better hope it happens soon as the Jets can’t afford to pile more losses on this early in the season.
The Ravens had no success running the ball, as they only rushed for 49 yards total, but they had the ball long enough to keep trying and allow them to eat up the clock.
Flacco was up-and-down all game, but he used Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap to his advantage when given the opportunity. Flacco and Boldin took turns picking on the two new Jet cornerbacks, Wilson and Cromartie. Cromartie did briefly get revenge with a big interception by the goal-line, but after that it was defensive holds and pass interferences for the rest of the game. Wilson played good in spurts, and sometimes had solid coverage only to be beat anyway, but he drew a huge pass interference call in the end zone (which to be fair seemed like a phantom call) which then set the Ravens up for their first touchdown as McGahee pounded the ball in for seven points.
After another stalled offensive drive and a bunch more penalties the Ravens fought their way back down the field to get all the points they would need, by kicking a 25 yard field goal to give the Ravens a 10-3 lead.
Flacco ended his night 20-38 for 248 yards and one interception and he did the majority of his damage with Boldin and Heap, mostly down the middle. Boldin finished the game with seven catches for 110 yards and Heap had six receptions for 72 yards. The Ravens stayed away from testing Revis, instead the decided to take their chances on the new boys in town. Their plan worked.
The Jets should of been up at least double-digits by half-time, but for all the reasons previously mentioned they just couldn’t finish the job. Sanchez didn’t force any turnovers, which is a good sign, but he held on to the ball too long too many times, resulting in too many sacks at the most crucial of times and besides the early pass to Keller the Jets didn’t try and stretch the field all night.
Sanchez ended the game just 10-21 for a measly 74 yards and a quarterback rating of 56.4. Trying to understand how the QB rating works can make your head hurt many times, but it’s fairly obvious a 56.4 simply isn’t going to be good enough.
The Jets ran the ball fairly well, especially considering the front seven they were facing, they ended the game with 116 total rushing yards (62 yards on 11 carries from an impressive L.T.) but they just couldn’t find and maintain any type of rhythm.
As the game came to a close, (and the Jets tacked on another field goal to cut the lead to one) more passes bounced off receivers hands (Cotchery dropped two easy sure-fire catches that would of given the Jets a first-down) penalties were called and sacks were taken.
The Jets final play of the game, couldn’t of summed up the Jets’ night any better. On fourth-down Sanchez hit Dustin Keller for what appeared to be a first-down as Keller ran out of bounds, but when watching the replay you could clearly see Keller run out of bounds with the ball in his inside hand and just short of the first-down marker. A perfectly horrific play end the game and continue the theme of the night and that would be the Jets coming up just short.
Whichever angle you choose to look at this game in, you will see the same answer, the Jets clearly beat themselves tonight, lucky for them it is just the first game of the year and they have this coming Sunday to start to prove that tonight was not what the fans should expect to see from here on out.
The bottom line tonight was, even with all the penalties, the game was up for grabs, it was anyone’s game there for the taking. The Jets defense only gave up 10 points and the running game managed an impressive 116 total yards against that vicious front-seven of Baltimore, but the game came down to who made the big plays when their team needed it. The answer and clear victor here is Joe Flacco.
He played a far from flawless game, but he made a couple of big plays, which turned out to be just enough to win the game because Sanchez, while not committing crucial turnovers like last season, simply couldn’t step up and make a play when they needed it most.
Other News and Notes
Safety Brodney Pool was inactive for the game tonight. Ryan had said previously they were going back-and-forth with whether or not they should risk further injuring that ankle and play him or give him one more week to be 100%.
Kris Jenkins obviously hurt his knee as previously mentioned. There was no information about the extent of his injury available at this time, JetsInsider.com should have more information on this for you tomorrow.