The Jets - Ravens matchup looked to be one for the ages, but a sloppy offensive showing by both teams along with outstanding defense by both teams made this one a low scoring nail biter. The Ravens pulled it out, scoring the only touchdown of the game.
But the score doesn't say as much about the game as you would think.
The Ravens dominated the stats even if they didn't dominate the scoreboard. They had 20 first downs while holding the Jets to just 6, although to be fair, 6 of the 20 were from penalties. The Ravens ran 77 plays to the Jets 45. The Ravens only moved the ball 282 yards (primarily through the air), but when you hold the opposition to just 176 that's a dominant performance.
Ravens time of possession was 38:30 to the Jets 21:30.
So how was the score so close?
The Ravens turned the ball over three times, twice on drives deep in Jets' territory. The Ravens stayed calm, and did what they needed to do to win; but those turnovers were very costly to scoring opportunities. The Jets also pinned the Ravens with terrible field position a few times, not giving them any room to make things happen.
The Ravens' offense still has work to do. But they were up against a premier defensive system, and one of the top front sevens in the NFL. The Ravens made some nice adjustments to defend against the confusion, and took advantage of a questionable secondary.
The Ravens' defense made the Jets look completely inept. Part of that was certainly due to conservative play calling by the Jets to keep the ball secure and not risk a big defensive play, but the Ravens will be a top three defense this year.
The secondary looked good, again against a fairly vanilla offense. Run defense was outstanding.
There were some hiccups on special teams, allowing few long punt returns (and an outstanding open field tackle by Sam Koch, who played linebacker in high school and looks the part), and poor return play by Zbikowski.
The Jets lack of discipline cost them dearly, committing costly penalties allowing several drives to continue. Given the Ravens had the same problem with Rex Ryan as a coach, I wonder if there's a connection. The Ravens continued to have a discipline issue last year after Rex went to the Jets, but it may have taken a year for Harbaugh's message to get through.
Some notable players:
Todd Heap and Anquan Boldin both had very strong performances. Heap injured his shoulder in the game; more on that will be available later in the week, but the injury doesn't sound serous.
The Jets' Tomlinson showed he still has plenty of gas in the tank. That's going to prove to have been a good move on their part.
There are a lot of good things the Ravens can take out of this game on the defensive side, but they will need to make some improvements if they want to have a shot at beating the Bengals next week.
I would like to see them stick to the running game, continue their defensive dominance, and make a change on the punt return team, perhaps give one of the young receivers a chance to make a play.
It was a pretty ugly win, but it was a win.
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