Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Jets 17
October 2, 2011
Remember how crazy it was when Rex coached in Baltimore? His defenses terrorized opponents and then pleaded with their offensive teammates not to screw it up.
Well, it must have been Rex Ryan tribute night in Baltimore Sunday when he brought his Jets into town because the Ravens defense stomped on a New York offense that literally couldn’t protect itself.
“Hey, Rex, we’re over you,” seemed to be the message as the Ravens defense set a new franchise record with three touchdowns on take-aways—two fumbles and an interception. For good measure they kicked a field after a fourth turnover en route to a 34-17 win.
The Jets offensive line was so bad, not only could they not block, they couldn’t tackle either.
With quarterback Mark Sanchez surveying the field through his ear-hole for most of the game, the Ravens defense held the Jets to just 157 total yards on the night.
But it wasn’t an easy win. It was a chaotic, prolonged, fits-and-starts kind of win, in large part because Ryan’s Jets defense came to play, too.
After allowing the Ravens a fast start—and then counterpunching with their own 107-yard kick return by Joe “Sunday Night” McKight—the Jets shut down the Ravens offense.
It really was Rex Ryan-era, old-school Ravens football, as Lardarius Webb finally took a Sanchez pass back 73 yards for a score to seize defeat from the jaws of the Ravens offense.
Who would think that the Ravens would have 34 points in the third quarter with Joe Flacco riding 0-11 passing streak? Credit the Jets with flustering Flacco all night. While he moved well in the pocket early, and played a nice first quarter, he was dreadful for the final three quarters. Unable to get his feet set, Flacco’s accuracy stunk, with a battery of throws behind, beyond and short of receivers, including an interception thrown directly into the chest of David Harris for a Jets touchdown on a screen pass intended for Ray Rice. Flacco missed a number of opportunities to run with the ball, and when he did leave the pocket it led to a fumble.
RUNNING BACK: B-
Ray Rice toted the ball 25 times for 66 yards and a score. Not bad against a defense pinching to stop the run. A lot of his yardage came from extra effort and late in the game grinding out the clock. His best play of the night came on a thundering chip block, slipping into zone coverage and hauling in a short pass and then juking for a 52-yard gain. But he was limited to just two catches and was an inconsistent pass blocker.
Ricky Williams ran the ball hard 12 times for 49 yards, but fumbled once and nearly fumbled a second time. Late-inning grind-it-out runners cannot afford to cough-up the ball. Williams needs to correct it.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C+
A key to the game plan against the Jets was to use wide-outs to draw the Jets corners to the perimeter, and to find mismatches on the safeties and linebackers. So the fact that starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith had just one catch apiece is not all that troubling. Smith did get open behind all-world corner Darrell Revis, but was overthrown. Smith blocked well downfield once again this week. Boldin, not so much, on a bubble screen.
“Walk-on” receiver LaQuan Williams was impressive hauling in a key slant in traffic and fighting for a first down.
TIGHT ENDS: B+
Ed Dickson was targeted twelve times. He caught four of them for 45 yards. Most of the misfires are on Flacco, but Dickson did drop a first down catch. The offense was most impressive when flowing through him, including an effortless-looking catch on a crossing pattern, and then launching himself five more yards through defenders for the first down. He completely missed a block on Calvin Pace that led to the Williams fumble.
Dennis Pitta turned a screen into a first down, and made a nice block out on an island to spring a Ray Rice cutback run.
Oh boy, another week where Michael Oher’s consistency on the right side must be called into question. At times he moved his feet well against speed rushers, or led at the point of attack (granted, he was mismatched against safety Eric Smith on some of those calls late in the game with the defense drawn up). Other times he failed to sink his hips and allowed Pace to circumvent his blocks. He also allowed Smith to run free on an inside move to the quarterback.
Bryant McKinnie was excellent. He got more than one pancake block, and it took just one forearm shiver to pop linebacker Josh Mauga five yards back in the end zone on the Rice TD run.
INTERIOR LINE: C
Despite what you may have heard from Chris Collinsworh during the telecast, Andre Gurode played poorly. He was particularly weak again the pass rush, including missing a blitzing Bart Scott to stop Flacco from hitting a wide-open Smith in the end zone and also a holding call inside the Ravens’ ten. Gurode was fine power blocking on zone schemes, but struggled in almost every other aspect.
Marshall Yanda was just about perfect, and smartly reacted by coming out of his stance to draw an encroachment call. Matt Birk was adequate, aside from an indecisive snap to draw a procedure penalty.
Former Raven Derrick Mason caught just two passes, while former Ravens-killers Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress were held to identical marks of three catches and 33 yards apiece. A lot of credit goes to the front seven for keeping Sanchez on his heels all night, but credit a depleted Ravens secondary for sticking to their assignments.
Cary Williams was particularly good in press coverage, disrupting Burress. He also led the team with eight tackles, plus a forced-fumble. Lardarius Webb did a nice job of breaking on balls including a pick six that came late out of Sanchez’ hand. And both corners were steady tacklers.
As the Ravens built a lead, and missing three cornerbacks to injuries, Danny Gorrer was forced to step up from the practice squad and onto the field in obvious passing situations. He held up well, and made a nice play to not bite on a Holmes double-move to end a Jets drive.
Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard were instrumental in keeping the Jets out of synch. Ed Reed, on the first snap of the game, took a page out of the Troy Polamalu playbook when he snuck up to the line of scrimmage and bolted untouched from the right side to strip the ball from Sanchez on a three-step drop. Like Polamalu’s strip of Joe Flacco on a similar play that stripped home-field advantage from the Ravens in the playoffs, the fumble led to a game-changing score.
Both Ravens safeties played the game near the line of scrimmage and were a physically dominating presence, keeping the running game in check and forcing Sanchez to beat them.
With Jets’ All-Pro center Nick Mangold sidelined, and rookie Colin Baxter snapping, the linebackers smelled blood in the water. On the inside, the Ravens alternated sending Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, and Brendon Ayanbadejo up the A-gap and kept constant pressure in Sanchez’s face, visibly rattling him and preventing the rhythm quarterback from getting into rhythm.
Jarret Johnson was a force on the edge, fighting through blocks to shut down his side of the field. He also scooped up Sanchez fumble and ran it in for a score.
Jameel McClain had a very active game, including his own fumble recovery for six, and a batted pass. Although just one tackle-assist on the stat sheet. He seems to be gaining confidence in his assignments.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Paul Kruger displayed cat-like quickness to pounce on a muffed shot-gun snap. He also was effective in both pressuring off the edge and dropping into coverage. Pernell McPhee and Terrell Suggs crashed the interior very effectively to help draw blockers and set-up blitzing schemes from the edges.
Inexplicably, the Jets asked tight end Matthew Mulligan to block Suggs one-on-one. Suggs beat him to the inside and hit Sanchez to help force the key turnover of the game, leaving Mulligan to wish he could get a mulligan on the play.
Haloti Ngata, likewise, broke free untouched and ran through the back of Sanchez as he was set to throw, leading to a flailing fumble and Ravens score. Cory Redding executed a similar move to stuff Ladanian Tomlinson in the backfield.
Arthur Jones came in late and was unblockable by the weary Jets offensive line.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The Ravens were embarrassed by Joe McKnight’s 107 yard kick return on a play where Brendon Ayanbadejo was caught flat-footed. That will give them plenty to work on through the bye week. Billy Cundiff solved it with multiple kicks through the back of the end zone. He was perfect from 38 on two field goal attempts.
LaQuan Williams was shaky in return duties, muffing the opening kick at the 13, which Ayanbadejo jumped on. He consistently fielded punts and kicks too low, and let another punt roll for twelve more yards, and it led to an appearance by Ed Reed as a punt returner. The Ravens were also lucky not to be called for running into the punter twice.
Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano badly outcoached Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who, like his current Jets head coach, was a one-time candidate for the Ravens head job. Being down a key player on the interior line, like the Ravens who were without Ben Grubbs, Schottenheimer had no answer for blocking the Ravens front seven. While Schottenheimer could not shield his offensive line from trouble, Pagano had an excellent scheme for protecting his depleted secondary.
On offense, there will be inevitable questions about why the Ravens were still throwing the ball up by 20 points in the second and third quarters. It played into the Jets hands and nearly gave the game away with turnovers. That said, Joe Flacco said their goal this season was to stay aggressive with a lead, and not experience the sort of fourth quarter collapses we saw from them last season. And even when they ran the ball, Ricky Williams fumbled.
In an NFL week-four that saw some big leads melt away in epic fashion, it’s hard to criticize the Ravens for not sitting on a lead with nearly three full quarters to kill. Sometimes, instead, you just need to ask your quarterback to execute better.
In a game that was averaging one hour to play each of the first three 15-minute quarters, it’s hard to imagine how much of the nation saw much of this bizarre game through to the end. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth seemed to have had enough of it at some point early in the third quarter.
Michaels in particular seemed rattled, starting the broadcast by announcing it was too loud for him to think, as he tried to explain-away the first of his many blunders. For instance, he credited Joe McKnight with recovering opening fumble by the Ravens; McKnight caused it. Similarly, he credited Ray Lewis with strong pass coverage on a play where Lewis was hitting the quarterback. Michaels needs to work on better translating what his spotters are feeding into his earpiece.
The strange game seemed to rattle Mike Carey’s crew, too. They missed a pass interference penalty on Kyle Wilson, who pulled down Dickson’s arms in end zone as the ball arrived. They also seemed to botch a facemask call against Plaxico Burress on an attempted stiff arm, as they only penalized the Jets five yards. The incidental facemask rule and five yard penalty was dropped in 2008, and that play called for 15 yards, or half the distance to the goal.
The Ravens caught a break when Carey correctly flagged the jets for holding Pollard on a punt blocking attempt, but missed Ed Reed running into the kicker. There was an absurd waste of time when the Ravens were forced to challenge a Jets punt that clearly landed on the goal line but was first placed on the one. They also incorrectly marked a Ravens punt at the one-foot line after Cary Williams touched it at the two.