OWINGS MILLS ~ The Ravens have learned through painful experience to account for wide receiver Santonio Holmes above all other defensive priorities.
Holmes has caught 35 career passes for 641 yards and eight touchdowns against the Ravens, scoring in seven consecutive games against them when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He caught a touchdown in the Ravens’ AFC championship game loss to the Steelers.
"He’s been a Raven killer" defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said of Holmes, who was suspended for last year’s 10-9 Ravens win over the Jets while serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. "My nightmares, when I wake up in the middle of the night sweating, it’s because I think of ’08, the three losses [to Pittsburgh]. He had a hand in all of them. They were all extended plays, scramble plays where Ben [Roethlisberger] found him in the open and he created touchdowns."
ACCOUNTING FOR KELLER: No Jets tight end has ever caught as many passes in his first three NFL seasons as Dustin Keller.
Keller has 148 catches for 1,744 yards and 10 touchdowns since being drafted in the first round out of Purdue.
He leads the Jets 16 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns, emerging as the favorite target for quarterback Mark Sanchez. Thirteen of his receptions have accounted for first downs.
"I think he’s one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "You’re talking about a handful of guys, and he’s right there with them. He’s only gotten better. He’s a threat, especially on the crossing routes and downfield. He does it all, really. So, he’s going to be a big factor."
REVIS ISLAND: Squaring off with Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis creates a whole new set of challenges for an offense.
Revis traditionally removes one side of the field as a true shutdown cornerback.
In two seasons under Jets coach Rex Ryan, Revis has posted the lowest burn percentage of any cornerback and is tied with Asante Samuel for the highest percentage of passes defended to times targeted.
"He can definitely take one man away," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "I don’t know if it is one side of the field. They do a great job. They roll the coverage away from him, lock him up on the backside, very similar to what you’re saying. The thing that impresses me about him is he’s consistent. He is a technician. He is not just an athlete out there playing, shutting people down. He uses good technique, he knows how to play square, and he is a good tackler.
"You look at his body type; he is a great-looking guy from a football perspective. He is not a slightly built corner. The good news is we like to think our receivers are physical. We’d like to think that it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame from that perspective. He can have a major impact on the game obviously. He gives that defense a ton of flexibility and the ability, in a lot of people’s minds, to take one guy out of the game."
NO RESPECT YET: Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie isn’t worried about Ravens rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Not even after Smith exploded for three touchdown catches against the Rams.
"He had one big game, that’s it," Cromartie told New York reporters. "He has five catches for his whole career. He has a three-game career."
Informed of Cromartie’s comments, Smith wasn’t offended.
"What Cromartie said about me is the truth," he said. "He shouldn’t be scared of me. He’s been in the league a long time. I’ve only been in the league for three games, so it was nothing crazy about what he said."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times