Ravens embarrass Jets 34-17: Post-game Breakdown

For anyone who went to bed early last night, all you missed was the New York Jets being embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens on national television, 34-17.

Or, really, “the New York Jets offense was embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens defense on national television” is a more accurate description of what actually happened.

At least the internet was funny about it, because the game itself was a frustrating mess for Jets fans.

Of the 34 points the Ravens scored last night, the Jets’ offense was directly responsible for 24 of them. Two fumbles, both by Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, were returned for touchdowns. An interception thrown by Sanchez was also returned for a TD, and a third fumble (again, by Sanchez) was kept out of the endzone by the defense, but the Ravens were already in field goal range.

Sanchez's numbers were some of the worst you’ll see – 11 for 35 for 119 yards with 3 lost fumbles and 1 interception.

As bad as Sanchez was, he wasn’t the whole problem. Some of his decision making was questionable, but the bigger problem continues to be the offensive line. It's completely ineffective.  Sanchez was hit over and over again by the Ravens defense, and at least two of his three fumbles were a result of his being drilled, hard, by the Ravens. There were two fumbles where these fumbles could have been ruled incomplete passes, but weren’t – the home field advantage being Baltimore’s, after all.

And being constantly hit clearly took its toll on Sanchez – by the end of the game, he was just throwing the ball in somebody’s general direction and getting out of the way.  The passes went towards Burress, Holmes, and Mason, but not close enough to be caught by any of them. You could argue that the biggest problem with Sanchez was lack of leadership – not taking his team (it is his team now) and guiding them to a win with some inspirational words and good execution. But it’s really hard to do those things, especially the good execution part, when you’re getting nailed like you’re the target in a real life whac-a-mole game, and that comes back to the offensive line.

There were a few mishaps with center Nick Mangold’s replacement, rookie Colin Baxter. There were two bad snaps, but when NBC showed the replays, the snaps weren’t that bad. Sanchez just didn’t handle them. Left guard Matt Slauson subbed in for Baxter at one point, but Slauson’s replacement Vlad Ducasse was so bad at left guard that the experiment quickly ended and Baxter was back in. When you’re subbing linemen mid-game, things are going poorly.

The running game is still suffering because of the offensive line’s inability to create any real holes for the running backs to get through…not that there’s much of a running game. We’re four games into this season, and the real Shonn Greene hasn’t appeared yet. But the bigger concern is that the real Shonn Greene has appeared and this is the real Shonn Greene. In 10 carries against Baltimore, he had 23 yards, averaging 2.3 yards per carry. This season, in 51 attempts, he only has 157 yards and is averaging 3.1 yards per carry – not exactly a new, up-and-coming LaDainian Tomlinson type of player.

As mentioned last week, you have to question the play calling here. Sanchez is getting pounded, can barely throw the ball, and the only running play called is Greene up the middle? Uh, what? There’s nothing else that can be done on the ground? How about a reverse, or a fake, or literally trying anything else?

Of course, the Raven defense deserves a lot of credit. When they could take advantage of Jets’ mistakes, they did, and that’s why they won the game. Baltimore has had a good defense for a long time, but they aren’t nearly as crushing as the Jets offense would lead you to believe this game. Still, they did an excellent job capitalizing on Jet errors.

Somehow, the Jets were only down 27-17 at the half, and there were signs they were getting it together. The first series in the second half stalled, but the offense didn’t look nearly as vulnerable. Then, the momentum swung in their direction the next series on a fumble deep in Baltimore territory by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Freshly re-signed linebacker Aaron Maybin knocked the ball out of Flacco’s hand and it was recovered by defensive end Marcus Dixon, but the momentum promptly swung back the other way one play later. Sanchez was picked off by Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb, who ran all the way back for a touchdown.

After that, the game was a lost cause.

Although directly responsible for 24 of the Ravens’ points, the Jet offense was only responsible for 3 of their own 17 points.  They managed to get into field goal territory in the second quarter so that Nick Folk could put up 3 points.

The offense was so bad this game that it was hard to gauge exactly how the rest of the team did. The special teams looked good in their limited time on the field. They gave up no big runbacks and Joe McKnight, one of the few bright spots in a bad game, ran a kickoff back 107 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest play in Jets history. Here's the play:


The defense is also hard to judge. They only allowed 10 points, and they did cause two fumbles. Linebacker David Harris picked off Flacco and ran it back for a touchdown, but it’s a tough call since what we saw of them was limited. There’s some lingering concern over the run defense. We didn’t see much of it, except for the fourth quarter. The Ravens, who were predicted to run all over the Jets, didn’t run for most of the game and chose to let Flacco throw, except towards the end when they were killing the clock. But even then, the Jet defense didn’t allow any more points.

Speaking of Flacco throwing, he's the reason the Jets were in the game at all - he was 10 for 31 with 163 yards, with a fumble and an interception. He didn't complete a pass all of the second and third quarters.

Another bright spot was previously mentioned Aaron Maybin. He was cut earlier this year, then he was re-signed this week, and made his first appearance in a Jets uniform, causing a fumble and sacking Flacco. (He already has more sacks than Vernon Gholston, by the way). Here's the sack and fumble:


Finally, and though this wasn't the reason the Jets lost, it was still irritating - the officiating in this game was really uneven. Calling for the offensive facemask? Calling holding but missing roughing the kicker? The Jets had 9 penalties for 69 yards, and they were sloppy in some places, but some of the penalties were stretches.

It’s still early and their record is a "respectable enough" 2-2, but the Jets are a Tony Romo meltdown away from being 1-3. After being exposed last night, the Jets ought to be in full crisis mode. Their first divisional game is next Sunday in New England, and it’s the Jets first “must-win” of the season.

New England’s defense isn’t anywhere near as good as Baltimore’s, and hopefully Nick Mangold will be able to play, since he’s apparently what’s held the offense together this season.

Even with Mangold, it’s going take a big game to win against the Patriots. It always does. But it’s not just about beating the Patriots next week. It’s also about beating back the doubt that’s crept in since the second half against the Raiders last week, that carried through to this Sunday and was reinforced in this game – the doubt about Sanchez being a good leader, the doubt about just how good the Jets are, and the doubt that this Jets season, unlike this last game, is not just another lost cause.

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