Jets vs. Ravens: Takeaways from Baltimore's 19-3 Win over New York
The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Jets in an ugly but decisive manner. It was a defensive struggle, where running the ball was difficult and field position was everything. The Ravens pulled out an important victory over another AFC playoff contender, but there is still a long way to go before Baltimore can confidently think about the playoffs.
For the majority of the 60 minutes, the game was about tricks and kicks. Both teams used trick plays and the wildcat formation, and the kickers were responsible for most of the scoring.
The Ravens defense was excellent, confusing Geno Smith, forcing turnovers and giving the offense phenomenal field position. The offense, however, struggled to capitalize and didn't score a touchdown until the very end of the third quarter.
With eyes firmly locked on the upcoming Thanksgiving night battle against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, here are things you should take away from Baltimore's ugly win over the Jets.
Tricky Tyrod Taylor
Heading into this game, we knew that the New York Jets were going to use a fair amount of the wildcat formation to throw Baltimore’s defense out of whack. What we didn’t expect to see was the Ravens retaliating in kind.
Tyrod Taylor saw the most snaps of his career (in a game that counted) as he was utilized on end-arounds and as a dual-threat quarterback running the read-option.
By the second half, the Jets had caught on to the trickery, but Taylor gave the Baltimore offense some life in the first 30 minutes, including a 17-yard run (the longest of the day).
We saw Taylor take the field against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10, but his role was much larger here. Whether it will stay that way remains to be seen.
How Involved Can Tyrod Taylor Be in the Offense?
Joe Flacco has never missed a start in his NFL career, but a backup quarterback is an incredibly valuable asset (look at what Josh McCown has done for the Chicago Bears compared to Scott Tolzien for the Green Bay Packers).
The Ravens have always had dynamic plays for Tyrod Taylor in the playbook, but they have chosen to keep them in their back pocket because he has been the only backup quarterback on the roster.
Giving him snaps on offense (especially the nature of those snaps, with him as a running threat) is a risky proposition without another quarterback on the roster who is familiar with the playbook.
So, why give him snaps recently? Is it out of necessity or are the Ravens not afraid of putting Taylor on the field?
We’ll find out over the remaining weeks of the season.
This was the first game where Taylor saw a fair amount of action, so it might have been a creative attempt to pick up some yards on the ground against the best rushing defense in the league.
If the Ravens are going to continue using Taylor, it adds another dimension to the offense that could be dangerous. It's dangerous for opponents but dangerous for the Ravens if he gets hurt.
The Excellence of Justin Tucker
Add Justin Tucker to the list of undrafted gems uncovered by the Baltimore front office.
After Billy Cundiff’s gut-wrenching miss in the AFC Championship game of 2012, many were hoping that a veteran kicker would be brought in to replace him. Instead, the only competition was a rookie free agent out of Texas.
He impressed with his power and accuracy and eventually made Cundiff expendable. Baltimore hasn’t looked back since.
Tucker connected on four field goals against the Jets, including a 53-yarder in windy conditions. That brings his streak to 22 consecutive field goals made, and he’s been one of the most valuable weapons for the Ravens offense.
He’s already one of the best kickers in the league, with impressive power and the mental fortitude to nail clutch kicks. Tucker carried the Ravens when the offense couldn’t capitalize on stellar defensive play and excellent field position.
Offensive Struggles Still an Issue
To preface this slide, it is important to note that the New York Jets boast an impressive defense and a dominant defensive line. Regardless, they made the Ravens offense stall on numerous occasions.
Nobody should have expected Ray Rice to replicate his output from last week against the best rushing defense in the league, but the Jets secondary has been exposed by lesser quarterbacks than Joe Flacco.
Unfortunately, Flacco was unable to take advantage, and the offense couldn’t put the game away until the end of the third quarter.
Baltimore went 3-of-13 on third downs and failed to score a touchdown on four red-zone trips. Those conversion rates won’t cut it next week against a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that will be able to put points on the board.
There are many positives to take out of the 19-3 victory, but the offense still has work to do.
Return of the Big Play?
One aspect of the offense that inspires hope was the big plays Joe Flacco made through the air. He threw a couple of deep balls early that hung up in the air, but as the game went on, he grew more comfortable.
He hit Torrey Smith for a 60-yard gain, and then he iced the game with a 66-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones for a touchdown. Both throws were absolutely perfect, and they helped a sputtering offense.
The big plays boosted Flacco’s average yards per attempt to 10.5, his highest average of the season.
For an offense that is struggling to run the ball or sustain drives, big chunk plays would be incredibly helpful.
Hopefully, Flacco has found his rhythm and the deep passing game is back on track.
Defense Got Its Groove Back
The Baltimore defense that general manager Ozzie Newsome overhauled during the offseason has had its ups and downs.
There was the Week 1 debacle where they gave up seven touchdowns to Peyton Manning. There were also the three games where they gave up over 140 rushing yards and looked weak and vulnerable.
But this defense is locked in at the moment. They’ve played three straight incredible games, with the pass rush, run defense and the secondary all stepping up at times to make plays, force turnovers and get off the field.
New York didn't find the end zone in the game and were shut out for the last 54 minutes of the game. The defense is playing at a championship level right now. The offense, on the other hand, isn’t pulling its weight.
Favorable Day for Baltimore's Playoff Hopes
Not only did the Ravens win, but the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets lost, which means that Baltimore is currently in eighth place in the AFC.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one spot ahead of them, so next week's contest will be a must-win game for the Ravens to even the head-to-head tiebreaker.
There are six teams that are tied at 5-6, so the mission remains simple for the Ravens: win.
For right now, though, Week 12 was a good week for Baltimore's chances of making the playoffs. A win over the Steelers next week would take the Ravens into the second wild-card spot—just where they want to be.