The Jets intrigued audiences in the preseason with their no-holds-barred, behind-the-scenes TV show, but it was the Ravens who grabbed the spotlight Monday night with a 10-9 victory. They held New York to 176 yards, six first downs, allowed Mark Sanchez just 74 yards passing and kept Rex Ryan’s crew out of the end zone.
New York’s usually fierce defense sacked Flacco on Baltimore’s first offensive play, forcing a fumble recovered by Sione Pouha. The Ravens’ equally intense D held firm, and Nick Folk kicked a 23-yard field goal.
Pouha grabbed another fumble later in the quarter, by Willis McGahee, and Flacco was picked off by Antonio Cromartie on a sideline pass at the New York 3. The cornerback, acquired in a trade with San Diego to further bolster a secondary that features All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis, got a terrific block from his partner on a 66-yard runback to the Baltimore 31.
Two plays later, Shonn Greene lost the ball — he touched it only one more time the rest of the night and dropped a pass — and Baltimore embarked on an impressive 11-play, 76-yard drive for a 7-6 halftime lead. Of course, it was aided by Jets mistakes, the worst of which were Braylon Edwards — a wide receiver, of all things — running into Cundiff on a field goal attempt, giving the Ravens a first down to prolong the possession, and rookie Wilson’s pass interference on T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the end zone.
I somehow convinced some friends to watch the game with me at Spirit in Cambridge. I stuck around to the bitter end, but my friends came and went as their schedules dictated. Fraley returned from the bathroom late in the third quarter. “Did I miss anything?” he asked.
“If you mean any plays,” I said, “no. But there’s a holding call on the Jets that looks promising!”
Perhaps the biggest statistic is that turnovers and poor special teams play let the Jets start in Ravens territory four times. But the Ravens’ defense gave up only three field goals.
“Our defense was lights out,” Harbaugh said. “They were put in some really tough situations. That’s about as good a defensive performance that the Ravens have ever played.”
That’s one way to look at it, I guess.
Ugh. Whatever. First game of the season. One hash mark in the W column. I’ll take it.