Chatty Jets silenced by hard-knockin’ Ravens
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Jets were shut down and shut up.
Not exactly the way the NFL’s big-talking reality TV stars wanted to start their season.
“We’re obviously not going to go undefeated this year,” coach Rex Ryan said, “but our goals remain the same.”
All that Super Bowl chatter? The Baltimore Ravens certainly had something to say about it, grabbing the spotlight Monday night with a hard-knockin’ 10-9 victory.
“We didn’t have the ‘Hard Knocks’ show,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said. “HBO is not going to win the Super Bowl.”
Neither is sloppy play, an inept offense and an inability by Ryan’s big, bad defense to stop the Ravens on third down.
“We’re a better team than this,” cornerback Darrelle Revis insisted.
Well, the Jets need to get better in a hurry. They have a short week to prepare for the rival New England Patriots, who looked as though they don’t intend to give up their hold on the AFC East anytime soon with a 38-24 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday.
“It’s a disappointment for us as a team,” Revis said. “We wanted to win this game to be 1-0 going into the Patriots game feeling good. Right now, we just have to go back to the drawing board.”
The Jets were called for a whopping 14 penalties, costing them 125 yards, had just 176 yards of total offense and made only six first downs, tying a franchise low set in 1976. They were 1 for 11 on third downs, not converting their first until 57 seconds were left in the game.
Mark Sanchez also was held to just 74 yards passing, the second-lowest total of his young career.
“It’s frustrating and it’s disappointing,” Sanchez said. “There’s so much talent in this locker room that there’s really no excuse.”
Other than the fact Baltimore, Ryan’s former team, largely outplayed New York. While the Jets opened their new $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium with plenty of hype and hope, the Ravens rocked them with enough big plays – they were 11 for 19 on third down – to silence them for a week.
“Anytime you challenge a warrior, a warrior is always going to respond,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.
Baltimore also served notice that it might also be for real in the AFC, winning a tough road game in a meeting that was predictably filled with chippiness.
“We felt pretty confident with the game plan we had and the way we prepared,” said Anquan Boldin, one of the Ravens’ new wide receivers. “It felt like we could come in and get a victory.”
Willis McGahee squeaked into the end zone from 1 yard out with 6 seconds left in the first half to give the Ravens a 7-6 lead. Billy Cundiff’s 25-yard field goal midway through the third quarter made it 10-6, and with the way the Jets’ offense was going, that was all the Ravens needed.
Nick Folk, the Jets’ new kicker, accounted for all of New York’s scoring and made it a one-point game early in the fourth quarter. But that was all the Jets could muster.
“We weren’t at our best today,” Ryan said, “but that’s a credit to the Ravens.”
Folk got the Jets on the board with a 23-yarder 4:06 into the game that was set up by the defense. Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas sacked Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ first possession, knocking the ball loose. Sione Pouha recovered to give the Jets the ball at the Ravens 11.
The Ravens were driving on their next possession when McGahee was stripped of the ball, and Pouha recovered his second fumble of the game.
Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins left during that drive after hurting his left knee. The 10-year veteran, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee midway through last season, didn’t return and his status was uncertain.
Antonio Cromartie’s debut with the Jets was shaky, despite a nice 66-yard interception return. Like rookie Kyle Wilson, Cromartie was beaten several times by Boldin as the Ravens usually avoided Revis, even though the Jets’ star cornerback missed the entire preseason in a holdout.
“I told him that the beast he created, he’s got to deal with,” the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs said of Ryan, who was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator before joining the Jets. “All respect to him. I love him with all my heart, but they got to deal with us this year.
“We showed who the No. 1 defense is.”
The Ravens were happy to stick it to Ryan, including Lewis, who talked trash with his former coach during the days leading into the game.
“It became personal when the schedule came out,” Lewis said. “We knew the tradition and the respect that Rex wanted to bring to the Jets. The bottom line is: Let’s just play football. I tip my hat to my team.”
The loss capped a tumultuous few days for New York, which is being investigated by the NFL for its treatment of a female television reporter at practice Thursday and for whether the Jets violated offseason rules during a workout in California run by Sanchez.
“This is a long season,” Sanchez said. “If any team can do it, I think this team can bounce back next week against a good New England team. That’s where our focus is.”