- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Jets have a two-game losing streak, and it’s the first time in the Rex Ryan era they’ve suffered consecutive back-to-back, double-digit losses. This is bad; their once-promising season could be in peril. They were outcoached, outplayed and, frankly, intimidated by the Ravens, who scored three defensive touchdowns for the first time in franchise history.
Rex’s return: Ryan’s old defense is a lot better than his current defense. This game was personal for Ryan, a former Ravens assistant, and his team wasn’t ready to play. Maybe Joe Namath was right, after all. This was a Kotite-ian performance by the Jets, who allowed two fumble-recovery touchdowns for the first time in franchise history.
Woe Mark: Quarterback Mark Sanchez was under duress from the first play until the last. It would be wrong to blame him for the entire offensive debacle, but he didn’t help matters with a few horrible decisions. He committed four turnovers -- one interception (returned for a touchdown) and three fumbles (two returned for scores). By the third quarter, he was so rattled that he was just chucking and ducking.
This was Sanchez’s worst game in a long time; he needs to regroup and lead his team out of this funk. He has nine turnovers in four games. If Ryan had a viable alternative, we’d have a quarterback controversy.
On the interception, by cornerback Lardarius Webb, Sanchez misread the coverage and threw quickly to Santonio Holmes off play-action. Webb sat on the route and made an easy pick. On the Jets’ first play, Sanchez failed to recognize a safety blitz by Ed Reed. It wasn’t a sneak attack; Reed was positioned on the line. They decided not to block “the best safety that ever played,” as Ryan called him. Sanchez was blindsided, a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown.
A second touchdown came on another blindside sack, this time defensive tackle Haloti Ngata splitting the left side of the offensive line. It was scooped up by outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and, well ... you know the drill by now.
Musical linemen: Once again, the Jets played without the leader of their offensive line, as Nick Mangold (ankle) was declared inactive before the game. Rookie Colin Baxter made his second career start, but he was benched for three series in the second quarter. Bad move. They weakened two positions, sliding left guard Matt Slauson to center and inserting Vladimir Ducasse at left guard.
The move reeked of desperation, and the Jets nearly paid a steep price. Ducasse was awful, giving up a strip sack/touchdown to Ngata. They’re lucky Sanchez was able to get up after being blasted by Ngata. The coaching staff came to their senses and went back to the starting lineup. Truth be told, the starting unit couldn’t pass-block, either. Who ever thought Mangold was their offensive MVP?
Injury report: The Jets lost dependable outside linebacker Bryan Thomas in the first quarter and he never returned. Thomas was carted off with what was announced as an ankle injury. He was replaced by Jamaal Westerman. Thomas’ injury looked serious and he could be out an extended period.
Bright spots: Not many. Joe McKnight scored on a 107-yard kickoff return to make it 7-7, the longest play in Jets history. Pass rusher Aaron Maybin, picked up off the street, recorded his first career sack.
What’s next: The Jets are on the road for the third straight week, heading up to Foxborough for a showdown against the Patriots -- the Jets’ first AFC East game.
5hEric D. Williams