STARS OF THE GAME:
5. DT DeWayne Robertson: Robertson continues his improved play as he recorded 6 tackles and .5 sack. The 4th overall selection in the 2002 draft continues to win back the Jet fans that cheered him on draft day as he also hurried Boller three times and knocked him down twice, utilizing his hands better than every before. In addition, Robertson disrupted many running plays, penetrating into the backfield through double teams, and forcing Jamaal Lewis, a north-south runner, to run east-west, thus slowing down his head of steam and making him easier to tackle.
4. DE Bryan Thomas: The DE the Jets chose to take with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft has been a bust, leaving Jet Fans to wonder why the Jets passed on NFL SS Ed Reed to select Thomas. Well Thomas flashed his untapped potential against Reedís team as he replaced Shaun Ellis at game time who was sidelined with a groin injury. Thomas tallied six tackles and got 1.5 sacks. Thomas was very active in the run game as well, holding his ground effectively. His improved play at end could be the result of practice time at DT, where he is forced to work against bigger guards, trying to get to the quarterback through a smaller area. Thomas has been forced to rely more on technique and hand use instead of his speed on the edge. Itís too early to lift the "bust" label, but if Thomas can consistently produce, he could see increased playing time in Donnie Hendersonís defense.
3. RB Curtis Martin: The steady Martin continues to rack up the yards to fulfill his promise of a 1500 yard season. The Jetsí only offensive weapon against the stingy Ravens defense, Martin had 28 carries for 119 yards and 2 TDs. With Chad Pennington out with a strained rotator cuff, Martin was expected to carry the load on offense with Quincy Carter starting at quarterback. Martin ran the ball effectively cutting thought the Ravens defense on misdirection runs throughout the game, and Carter didnít make any mistakes, but the Jets offense was plagued by poor play-calling by Paul Hackett in the 2nd half. Martin can always be counted on to carry the load, and with Carter becoming more comfortable with every snap, the Jets should be able to bounce back next week vs. the Browns.
2. S Ed Reed: The 3rd year safety, and one of the emerging leaders of the Ravens defense, teamed with Ray Lewis to shut down the Jets offense, especially after Reedís interception in the endzone changed the whole course of the game. Reed led a secondary minus Chris McAllister and Deion Sanders that held the Jets to less than 175 yards passing. Reed had 8 tackles, most of which came near the line of scrimmage. Reedís all around talents and play-making abilities were on display, showing the Jets and their fans just the type of player they passed up.
1. QB Kyle Boller: It seems the 2nd year Quarterback finally understands what his role on the team is. The matured Boller, under the coaching of Jim Fassel, has improved a great deal from last season. Last season, Boller tried to make too many plays with his strong arm, often forcing balls into double and even triple coverage. In this game, Boller, who went 19-33 for 213 yards and 2 TDs, calmly took what the Jet defense gave him, knowing that he has one of the NFLís best defenses on his side. Boller didnít try to force anything, throwing numerous balls away, knowing a punt is much better than an interception, especially with their defense. Bollerís numbers look average, mostly because of balls thrown away under pressure and drops, but when the Ravens were given good field position and forced to score, as in their last drive before halftime and the game-winning drive in overtime, Boller calmly drove them down the field, with solid reads and accurate throws. Bollerís day is that much more impressive when you acknowledge the fact that Jamaal Lewis, the main weapon on offense, only ran for 71 yards. If Boller continues to play smart, mistake free football, the Ravens are a legitimate threat as AFC playoff contenders.
-Jerald Sowell. Sowell had a great lead block on Ray Lewis during Curtis Martinís second TD run.
-John Abraham. Abe continues his domination of the NFL with 9 tackles, 1 sack and continued pressure on Boller. Abraham showed improved inside rush moves, and continues his improved play against the run, as he and his defensive linemates held Jamaal Lewis to 71 yards on 30 carries
-Terrell Buckely. T-Buck had his best game as a Jet, breaking up a couple deep passes. Buckely is the Jetsí best man-to-man DB and is making a strong case to replace David Barrett in the starting lineup.
-The Jets linebacking corps. Jets LBís had their best tackling day of the season, as they did missed very few tackles against Jamaal Lewis. They also blitzed effectively, pressuring Boller throughout the day.
-With two of the NFLís best defenses are playing against each other, it figures to be a low scoring game. In low-scoring, gritty, borderline ugly games like this, factors such as time of possession, penalties, and especially field position come into play. The Jets were stuck inside their own 20 yard line on numerous occasions thanks to the punting of 3rd string QB Kordell Stewart who replaced the injured Paul Zastudil. Toby Gowin had a very average day, out-kicking his coverage on several occasion. When your punter is out-punted by a 3rd string QB, you know youíre in trouble. The Jets were also called for two personal fouls on 3rd down, each costing them 15 yards. Giving a struggling offense 30 yards on 3rd down is a recipe for disaster.
-Coaching. Head Coach Herm Edwards failed to capitalize on a golden chance to win the game when he opted to kick a field goal on 3rd down at the Baltimore 3 yard line and :08 seconds remaining instead of attempt one more play. Offensive Coordinator Paul Hackettís offense also became vanilla in the second half, unable to move the ball after the Ravens made halftime adjustments. A football game should never be decided on coaching decisions. Players should always determine the outcome.
QUESTIONABLE COACHING DECISIONS OF THE GAME:
JETS: Two plays. First, in the second quarter up 14 -7 threatening to score and take a 21-0 lead, the coach call for a LaMont Jordan halfback option pass despite QB Quincy Carter being 8 for 8 in passing at the time. We all know what happened next. Jordanís pass is intercepted by Ravensí S Ed Reed and it leads to a Ravensí TD. All in all a 14 point swing and all momentum the Jets have is gone.
Second, down 17-14 at the Baltimore 3 yard line, after driving 52 yards in 10 plays, Gang Greenís 2nd longest drive of the game, Herm Edwards is forced to call a timeout after Quincy Carter is slow out of the huddle as the clock was ticking down after a 2nd down run by LaMont Jordan. Then with :08 seconds left on the clock and no timeouts, Edwards decides to kick the field goal instead of attempting one more play. Doug Brien made the field goal sending the game into overtime, but the Jets could have scored a touchdown and won the game in those :08 seconds, instead of sending the game to overtime. I thought the Jets play to win the game...
RAVENS: On their first drive of the game, Baltimore came out early and moved the ball effectively against the Jets defense. On 3rd and goal on the Jet 7 yard line, Kyle Boller ran a QB draw through an open hole, but Eric Barton drove his man back into Boller at the 2 yard line, allowing Jonathan Vilma to get over and make the tackle. The Ravens decided to "go for it" on 4th and goal on the 2 yard line, but Bryan Thomas slid into the backfield and tackled Lewis for a short loss on a toss to the left. When your offense is one of the worst in the NFL, points are at a premium, especially against the New York Jetsí defense. If the Ravens had settled for the field goal, there might not have been an overtime.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Without a doubt, the botched halfback option pass described above. The Ravens went into halftime with the momentum, and the Jets were unable to rebound, eventually losing the game 20-17 in overtime.
MY TWO CENTS:
A go route?
A flea flicker?
A HB Option Pass?
All plays called by Offensive Coordinator Paul Hackett in the first half. The embattled Paul Hackett promised all week he would modify his system; customize it to best suit Quincy Carterís skills as a quarterback. But did you really believe him? I mean, with what happened last year with Vinny Testaverde? But Quincy Carter thrived in Paul Hackettís modified west coast offense. Hackett used more I-formations, and other 2 RB sets and called for short passes early so Carter could complete passes early so he would gain confidence and get in a rhythm. He also did not want to make Carter win by himself. Hackett handed the Ravens a steady dose of Curtis Martin, using misdirections and draws to counter the speed of the Ravens defense.
The Jets were up 14-7 at half, and the lead would have been greater if LaMont Jordan would have thrown the ball out of bounds when no one was open on the HB Option Pass. Paul Hackett actually had arguably the best defense in the NFL on its heels. But the second half was an entirely different story, as Hackettís offense went "3 and out" on numerous occasions and were only able to muster three points. Why is this? Because Paul Hackett is unable to make adjustments during the course of the game. Before Jordanís interception, the Jets gained 194 yard on 24 plays. After the interception, the Jets gained only 114 yards on 37 plays. The Ravens defense gained some momentum before halftime with Reedís interception, and Hackett put his tail between his legs. The Ravens defense started controlling their gaps on the misdirection runs. They were not caught up-field on draw plays. A secondary without Chris McAllister and Deion Sanders shut down the Jet WRís. This has been the case in nearly every game. The Jets offense sputters in the 3rd quarter because they do not adjust their offense to the changed the opposing defenses have made at halftime. If the Jets want to get back up track, Hackett needs to start making in game adjustments and the offense needs to become more productive in general.