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Monday, September 13, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 10, Jets 9

By Tim Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets opened their season Monday night with a 10-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at the New Meadowlands.

What it means: With so much hype building throughout the summer about the Jets and their lofty aspirations, they made a disappointing first impression. The Jets failed to score a touchdown, couldn't get their defense off the field, were amazingly sloppy and failed to capitalize on three first-half turnovers.

With the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins winning on Sunday, the Jets are a game behind in the AFC East race. That might not sound significant with 15 games remaining, but a loss in September means the same as a loss in December.

What I liked: The run defense was stellar. They limited the vaunted Ravens' backfield of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain to 47 yards on 31 carries.

For all their foibles on both sides of scrimmage, the Jets never let the game get away from them. They stayed in the game with aggressive defense and sensational special-teams play. Jim Leonhard had two punt returns for 54 yards.

I loved what I saw out of Joe Flacco, especially after he almost got decapitated on his first play and particularly for what he did on third down. He completed nine of his 14 attempts on third down for 137 yards. Every completion gained a first down.

What I didn't like: New York's offense was pathetic. They couldn't run. They couldn't throw. They couldn't convert third downs. They couldn't kneel out the first half clock without getting flagged for too many men on the field. They failed to convert a single third down until their final possession.

At the end of the game, I looked at Mark Sanchez's stats on my laptop thought "I must've forgotten to hit refresh since the second quarter." Nope. Sanchez went into his last possession 7-of-14 for 47 yards. He finished 10-of-21 for 74 yards.

Shonn Greene had a rough night. He fumbled twice in the first half (he lost one) and dropped a critical pass with about five minutes left in the game and the Jets still trying to find traction. Greene finished with five carries for 18 yards.

The Jets should be even more ecstatic to have Darrelle Revis in uniform because the two cornerbacks who were supposed to cover for him until he returned -- Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson -- were picked on. Flacco hit several big plays against both. Cromartie had three costly penalties to give the Ravens first downs. Flacco was 20-of-38 for 248 yards -- against last year's top-rated pass defense.

Trending: The Jets were obnoxiously undisciplined. They committed 10 penalties for 100 yards in the first half alone. They gave up six first downs on penalties, allowing the Ravens to break a franchise record. For the game, the Jets were flagged 14 times for 125 yards. That better not be a systemic problem for the Jets.

Unsung hero: Punter hasn't been a major strength for the Jets in a while, but Steve Weatherford was great Monday night. He pinned the Ravens inside the 15-yard line four times and inside the 5-yard line twice.

Injuries of note: The Jets lost star nose tackle Kris Jenkins on their second defensive possession to a knee injury. He slowly walked off the field under his own power, just as he did last year, when he sustained a season-ending knee injury in the sixth game.

What's next: On a short week, the Jets have to get ready for the Patriots, who showed Sunday they're still a force to be reckoned with by crushing the Cincinnati Bengals 38-24.