Sam Farmer: For Jets and Ryan, loss was a 'joke'

  • Joe Flacco (5) of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass against the New York Jets during the home opener at the New Meadowlands Stadium
Joe Flacco (5) of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass against… (Getty Images )
September 14, 2010|By Sam Farmer | Los Angeles Times

In the NFL, the knocks don't come much harder than this:

The New York Jets, playing their first game in their $1.6-billion stadium, were trailing Baltimore by a point. They had the ball with about 1Âœ minutes remaining and roughly 50 yards to go for a reasonable field goalÂ

And their frustrated fans were heading for the exits.

Who could blame those paying customers? The Jets, after crowing all offseason about their Super Bowl chances, laid a colossal egg in their debut Monday.

They lost to the Ravens, 10-9, in an embarrassing display that included six first downs to Baltimore's 20, a 1-of-11 rate on third-down conversions, and a staggering 14 penalties for 125 yards.

"Today," Coach Rex Ryan said, "was a joke."

None of the Jets found the humor in it, of course, especially because they lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins for the game and potentially the season.

He suffered an injury to his left knee -- one of those turn-your-head moments on the TV replay -- and was sprawled on the turf for a couple minutes before being helped to his feet and hobbling off the field. An injury to the same knee sidelined him last season, and he was able to get to the sideline on his own power in that case, too.

Ryan repeatedly praised the Ravens, his old team, and for good reason. They weren't without their flaws -- among them two fumbles and an interception -- but also did a good job of controlling the clock. They had the ball 38 minutes, 32 seconds compared to the home team's New-York-minute span of 21:28.

But Baltimore got a huge assist from all the Jets' miscues. In the first half alone, for instance, the Ravens benefited from:

• A defensive-holding call on third-and-28 that gave the Ravens a first down.

• An illegal shift that wiped out a 33-yard pass to the Baltimore 4.

• A 28-yard pass interference on flag-magnet cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

• A running-into-the-kicker call on fourth-and-one that eventually got the Ravens a touchdown instead of a field goal -- but only after the Jets were penalized for pass interference in the end zone.

• An offsides call on the extra point.

Oh, and one more before halftime:

• Twelve men in the huddle.

The Ravens picked up a club-record six first downs by penalty.

"We've got to be smarter than that," said Ryan, who seemed too exasperated to be irate.

It wasn't a banner night for Baltimore's Joe Flacco, whose 62.2 passer rating wasn't much higher than the 56.4 of Mark Sanchez. But Flacco did a good job of getting the ball to new weapon Anquan Boldin, who had a game-high seven catches for 110 yards.

As for all the focus this summer on re-signing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis? We now have a clearer picture of why. Rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson looked confused and overmatched, and it was a disastrous night for starter Cromartie, penalized four times.

"Revis Island" was on one side. Gilligan was on the other.

"I know the defense in and out," Cromartie said. "It's just me going out and playing defense like I'm supposed to play and being more disciplined with my eyes and my hands."

On a night when green foam fingers were passed out to fans at the turnstiles, the Jets avoided pointing fingers at each other in the locker room. Still, there was plenty of blame to go around.

The moment that best embodied the mental and physical breakdowns of the Jets came on their final offensive play. On fourth-and-10 from the New York 31, with 41 seconds left, Sanchez fired a pass to tight end Dustin Keller to his short right. The Jets just needed to get downfield for a field goal.

Keller caught the ball, and headed for the sideline to stop the clock. He made a beeline for the first-down marker, and had all the room he needed to get those 10 yards. But he ran the route too shallow and his momentum carried him out of bounds after just nine.

Those fans heading for the exits scarcely looked back.

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