It was a game that featured the emotions of old friends coming home and of course defense.
Nasty, hard hitting, in your face, blitz heavy defense.
Rex Ryan would have to wait another day to get revenge against his old bosses. Here are just a few of my thoughts about the Ravens 34-17 victory.
- The Ravens defense is good. Not just good but scary, hide the women and children good right now. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Chuck Pagano might end up the defensive MVP of this season for helping the Ravens rediscover their aggressive swagger. He blitzed, he fake blitzed, he zone blitzed, he corner blitzed, he safety blitzed, he used stunts and he may have seemingly created a few new ways to fluster and confound Mark Sanchez. Players always have to execute a game plan and Pagano has some impressive players to put his battle plans into action. Ed Reed lined up in several different spots last night but no one was ready (especially the Jets Offensive Line) for his beeline to the Quarterback to start New York’s first series to create the game’s first turnover. Haloti Ngata is simply a beast and Ray Lewis can still summon special performances when called upon. The Ravens have made defense their hallmark over the past decade or so and no matter what the offense develops into they will continue to be identified as a defense first team. Superlative job from all those involved on that side of the ball.
- Lardarius Webb is slowly developing into a very good cornerback. He broke perfectly on his interception that put the final nail in the Jets coffin. Certainly big plays like that get you noticed but he’s been solid all season long. He helped keep Ravens killer Santonio Holmes in check (3 catches, 33 yards) and had 3 passes defensed as well. The Secondary was my biggest concern heading into last night with so many injuries on the back end. But as we’ve seen the Steelers do for years, if you pressure the Quarterback you can cover weaknesses.
- A lot will be made of Joe Flacco’s miserable performance last night and the decision to go pass heavy against one of the league’s best secondaries but most of it will be off base. Passing early was exactly the way to go in this game and the Ravens had great success in the First Quarter. Cameron was inventive again lining up Ray Rice in the slot for a huge gain and sometimes using him as a decoy to hit Dennis Pitta on a Bubble screen. But with the Ravens up 21 points in the Second Quarter I’m not sure what fans want of the offense. If they go run heavy three times they would have punted. The Ravens only ran for a 2.6 average in the First Half. If the offense goes three and out a few series then Cameron is accused of being too conservative. Flacco’s miscues were execution not play calling. His interception was horrendous as he served up a pick six to David Harris. His fumble was due to being too indecisive and poor ball security. He overthrew and underthrew most of the night. Even when he threw passes with touch his receivers didn’t help him. It was a rough night against a good defense. But to say that the Ravens should have simply run because the Jets were last in the league against the Rush shows that you’re just a stat head. The Jets are more vulernable in that area than previous seasons but they are still top ten against the rush.
- It’s a joy to watch Vonta Leach play. Just watch him in short yardage as he annihilates the blocker in front of him. I like Le’Ron McClain but I love Leach. I don’t mind the occasional swing pass to him in space when he can put his head down but he is first and foremost a blocker.
- The Ravens offense is best when balanced and simply takes what the defense gives them. It seems very simple but if the box is loaded up then you need to take shots, otherwise you can pound it on the ground. Cam also has to vary play calling and play designs. He’s done a much better job this season than in the past plus I saw much more Shotgun in the early downs. But he got too predictable in the Second Quarter with a run on First and then all of a sudden its Third and Long. The Ravens should not only be about balance but at times unpredictable.
- The Jets will need to rediscover their running game if they hope make a return trip to the post-season. The loss of Nick Mangold looked huge last night but you see the Jets trying to rest the burden of the offense on Mark Sanchez’s shoulders. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. New York got to two AFC title games based on tough defense, a solid running game and having Sanchez deliver timely pass plays. They also miss Brad Smith more than they would care to admit. If Joe McKnight could impact the offense the way he did kick returns then they might have a replacement.
- Even though Torrey Smith didn’t fill up the stat sheet (1 catch, 1 yd) the Ravens did take shots with him. If Flacco would have delivered a better ball he would have scored against Derrelle Revis, who got away with a few holds on the coverage before Smith end up two steps behind him.
- Speaking of the officiating it was a rough game for the zebras. I agree that they missed a blatant Ravens penalty of running into the kicker at least twice. I think that they got both Sanchez fumbles from being hit correct even though the one off the Ngata sack was pretty bang bang and could have been called the other way. But lead official Mike Carey appears so awkward when delivering his ruling and has so for years. I’ll admit I laughed when Carey screwed up his explanation of Sanchez’s fumble as Rex Ryan and John Harbaugh changed expressions and expletives in a matter of seconds.
- It was almost Deja Vu for Dustin Keller. Keller was rocked late in last year’s season opener by Ray Lewis. He almost got a second taste last night. on a similar play.
- As the Ravens head into an early Bye they sit at 3-1 atop the AFC North. That’s all that really needs to be said.
- (EXTRA POINT) Why was Rex Ryan so quiet heading into this week’s game? Because he knew that his team had major issues to sort out. It was a major butt whipping that would have made a defensive guy like him proud if he wasn’t on the receiving end. BTW, Reason #1,824 as to why Rex didn’t get hired here – He called a timeout after the review before the extra point just so he could yell at the officials. Bad form sir. Bad form. Pointless and a waste of time and resources.
- (2nd EXTRA POINT) I loved Derrick Mason when he was here but does anyone still want to argue why he was let go? Mason was always one to get a bit chippy but his exchange with Paul Kruger drew a chorus of boos from the Baltimore faithful.