Jets vs. Ravens: 5 Lessons Learned in Baltimore's 34-17 Victory
Whoever said the best offense is a good defense probably didn't have a game like this one in mind.
The Ravens finished with 267 total yards while the Jets finished with only 150 total yards. Five touchdowns came as a courtesy of return touchdowns, four defensive touchdowns and one kick return touchdown. The five return touchdowns set a record for most return touchdowns in a game.
The Ravens came out on top mostly due to a stunning defensive performance. Jarrett Johnson, Jameel McClain and Lardarius Webb all made the most of defensive turnovers by running them back for touchdowns. And the Ravens needed every point the defense could give them.
On offense the Ravens were only able to manage 13 points. Ray Rice was for all intents and purposes the only effective offensive player. He finished with 66 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and 64 receiving yards.
Some clarity was gained in last night's confusing game. Here are the lessons I learned from this game.
The Defense Is Scary-Good
Before last night's game the Ravens had never had three defensive touchdowns in the same game. That is an amazing feat considering how good the Ravens defenses have been.
Not surprisingly, turnover expert Ed Reed got it started against the Jets. On their very first offensive play Reed hit the ball out of Mark Sanchez's hand. Jameel McClain then scooped it up and ran six yards for a touchdown.
The second touchdown wasn't as clear-cut. Flashbacks from the Tuck Rule game happened as the refs reviewed whether or not Haloti Ngata caused Sanchez to fumble the ball. The refs ruled that the play was a fumble and Jarrett Johnson's ensuing 26-yard touchdown run was good.
The third turnover came at a critical point in the game. The play before, Joe Flacco had fumbled the ball away which gave the Jets good field position while they were only down by 10 points. That changed in an instant when at the very next play Lardarius Webb intercepted the ball and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.
Starting out this season, the Ravens are rated third in overall defense and third in rush defense. Against Pittsburgh the Ravens had a record seven turnovers and in all three of their wins they have been helped by turnovers. These turnovers have resulted in large margins of victory, two of these victories coming against the teams in last year's AFC championship.
As long as the secondary weaknesses get fixed, the Ravens defense has every reason to expect to be one of the league's best units this year. And if the turnovers continue, this defense could be something special historically.
Joe Flacco Continues To Be Bothered by Elite Defenses
Even with a 17-point victory, last night was nothing special for Joe Flacco. He was 10-of-31 for 163 yards and an awful 37.4 QB rating. He also had an interception returned for a touchdown and lost a fumble.
Two weeks ago, Flacco had a bad game against a revamped Tennessee Titans defense that is surprisingly one of the league's best. Even with the Jets' struggles on defense they still are good, particularly in the passing area. Some of this wasn't really Flacco's fault as Darelle Revis did what he normally does by shutting down the Ravens deep passing game.
For an entire 35 minutes, Flacco was unable to complete a pass. That was certainly the low of the night since the Jets were busy attempting a comeback at the time and the Ravens were helping out by barely being on the field.
Thankfully Flacco picked a good night to go cold since the defense carried the team. For the Ravens to win playoff games, Flacco is likely going to have come up with a better stat line.
Ray Rice Is the Offense's MVP
The one offensive touchdown the Ravens did score was by Ray Rice. In the third quarter he came away with a three-yard touchdown run. The touchdown at the time gave the Ravens a 17-7 lead.
On a night where the entire offensive seemed off, Rice remained constant. He led the team in both receiving yards and rushing yards. That performance shows how vital he is to the offense's success.
There was a string of plays in the third quarter where the Ravens ran the ball 11 straight times. Behind Marshal Yanda and Andre Gurode, both Rice and Ricky Williams were able to move the ball well. Although the drive didn't result in points, it at least took some time off the clock.
For the season Rice has both the most receiving yards and rushing yards for the Ravens. It is clear that winning games will mostly likely involve him getting 20-plus carries and five or more receptions. Thankfully he looks up to the task of carrying the offense on his back most weeks.
Secondary Does Well Even Without Starters
Admittedly the starting cornerbacks on the Ravens are a bit fluid. But last night both Chris Carr and Jimmy Smith were unable to play. That left Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb and Danny Gorer playing cornerback.
When I first heard the announcers say Gorer's name, I had no idea who he was. I thought that maybe they had mispronounced someone else's name. It turns out that Gorer was promoted from the practice squad less than two weeks ago after Dominique Foxworth went on IR.
These three guys did a fine job containing the Jets receivers. Gorer in particular played great in covering Santonio Holmes. The Jets could have taken advantage of that apparent mismatch but thanks to Gorer, Holmes only ended up with three catches for 33 yards.
Former Raven Derrick Mason finished with the most receiving yards for the Jets with only 37. With numbers like that it's clear that the Jets did not have a good night. Even though the pass rush was a major factor, the secondary certainly deserves some credit.
Now with a bye coming up this week, the Ravens have a chance to rest and get healthy. Hopefully Carr and Smith will be back and so will injured safeties Huruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski. These players will certainly be needed against a Houston Texans offense that loves to throw the ball.
The Ravens Continue To Own the Jets
All week leading up to the game, the talk was about Rex Ryan returning to face his old team. As he usually does, Ryan was happy to contribute to this talk. He made it clear that he was unhappy the Ravens had passed on him as head coach and he wanted revenge on his old defense.
Well, with last night's game, Ryan can be proud of his Jets defense. They kept the team in a game that could have been an even bigger blowout. But he's got to be frightened of the defense that still has his fingerprints all over it.
Ryan was hugely influential to the Ravens' defensive success over the last few years. His aggressive play calls helped the Ravens to achieve top-10 status overall and top-five status with run defense over the last couple years. He has successfully created a model of that defense with the Jets—but the model isn't as good as the original.
Ryan is now 0-2 as a head coach against the Ravens. The Jets in general have not done well against the Ravens, losing six straight. Their only victory ever against the Ravens came way back in 1997.
The loss comes at a terrible time for the Jets who have now lost two straight and fallen out of first place in the AFC East. Conversely, this win is huge for the Ravens since the Jets were on paper one of their most difficult opponents this season. To beat them so convincingly shows that the Ravens could win most of their remaining regular-season games.