It was homecoming night for former assistant Rex Ryan. The Jumbo Tron had a Rex Ryan video tribute prepared before last night’s game in his honor and then his old defense quickly went to work on his new team.
There was no question that this game had a little more intensity to it than your normal preseason game, as old teammates tried to prove that life would go on without the other.
It didn’t take long for Baltimore’s defense to strike first. On the game’s second play, Ray Lewis hit rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez on a Blitz and his intended pass into the flat was intercepted by 345 pound Haloti Ngata who then rumbled twenty five yards in for the score.
After 52 seconds, the Ravens were up 7-0.
Sanchez’s troubles continued as Lewis read he second pass of the night perfectly but couldn’t hold onto the ball. To the youngster’s credit late in the first half he was able to deliver a 19 yd touchdown pass to Leon Washington to salvage a tough night.
Baltimore wasn’t finished as Joe Flacco, who recovered from a shaky first series picking up Ryan’s repeated blitzes calmly led a scoring drive with a few third down pickups that was capped by a fake and a behind the back handoff for a Ray Rice touchdown.
With a minute left before the half Baltimore did what did so well last season one more time as the pressure got to Kellen Clemens and Jameel McClain stepped into a pass and ran it back 16 yards to put the Ravens up 21-7.
However the second half looked very different, when the second and third units came on. Troy Smith struggled and threw one interception and was sacked three times. His group looked out of sync and at one point he needed to call a time out to get them to regroup.
Corner Frank Walker also had his share of problems as the Jets picked on him right away. Walker was beaten in one on one to the inside by David Clowney for a 28yd touchdown.
The Jets slowly crept back into the game as third stringer Erik Ainge scored on a Quarterback sneak with 22 seconds left in the game to close the score to 24-23. Ryan elected to go for the two point conversion but Prescott Burgess applied the pressure up the middle and Lardarius Webb tipped the ball away to seal the Ravens win.
POINTS TO PONDER
- Will the defense survive without Rex Ryan? That question was answered with a resounding performance by the first team. There had to some level of satisfaction in how well the defense played early so just maybe the national media might finally find a new angle instead of repeating this idea that the defense won’t be as good as last year because those former Ravens won’t be there. I think they’ll be fine.
- Is the dropoff by the reserves any cause for concern? Maybe. Troy Smith wasn’t helped early by a few dropped passes but his unit seemed out of sorts. Several times when he signaled for motion, his receivers were slow to respond or went to the wrong spot. It was also pretty clear that the Ravens may need to shore up their backups on the Offensive Line as Smith was sacked three times.
- Should we anoint Steve Hauschka the winner of the kicking battle? It’s looking that way. Hauschka hit a 42 Field Goal in the Fourth Quarter and nailed his extra point try. Graham Gano missed his only FG attempt and pulled the 47 yarder right. However Gano scores points for his open field tackle that could have saved an even longer gain.
- Who were some players that impressed last night? Jameel McClain made a strong case for starting linebacker with 8 tackles, 2 assists and the interception touchdown return even though earlier he was beaten badly on the touchdown toss to Leon Washington. Paul Kruger was like the Energizer bunny with 3 pass deflections and still was ready for more late in the fourth. Haloti Ngata is a beast and should finally make the Pro Bowl this year. Justin Harper made two nice catches and had no drops. Sam Koch remains another NFL punter that no one has ever heard about but his first punt of the night was a beautiful coffin corner inside the ten. He’s another guy that will warrant Pro Bowl consideration this year.