*Updated, 7:12 p.m. ET
*It's never easy for the Jets against the Baltimore Ravens, and it especially looked like an uphill battle when the Jets opened the game without injured Muhammad Wilkerson, giftwrapped a muffed punt snap into a touchdown in the first six minutes, and then lost C Nick Mangold and newly named starting QB Geno Smith and new LB starter LB Bruce Carter to injuries.
But with Ryan Fitzpatrick returning to the offense and takeaways and run-stopping returning to the defense, the Jets turned on the jets — and turned loose Matt Forte — in the second half to nail down a hard-earned 24-16 win over the Ravens.
In a game that some were labeling "absolutely a must-win" for the Green & White, the Jets improved their record to 2-5 heading to winless Cleveland and they ended their losing streak to Baltimore at eight games, and sending the Ravens (3-4) to their fourth straight defeat.
"I never lost hope," head coach Todd Bowles said of his team ending their four-game skid. "I don't think it's relief. I think it's frustration. We can't change the past but we have something to do about the future. That's what we're going to work on."
"It was a good team win," said LB David Harris, "a good four quarters, good, aggressive football, and I'm just happy we came out with the W."
Here are 10 observations of key plays and players as the game unfolded:
1. Costly Gaffe
Things had started well with a stop by the defense — marking the 10th time the Jets had not given up an opening-drive point to the Ravens — and then a first down by the Geno Smith offense before punting. But that first punt wasn't executed then because Tanner Purdum's snap, at eye height, was muffed by rookie punter Lachlan Edwards over his head and recovered after a fight for the ball by Ravens rookie Chris Moore for the game's first TD just 5:23 in. Brutal way to start your first home game in three weeks.
2. Long Ball Blues
The Birds' second drive produced their second score, Justin Tucker's 50-yard field goal with a strong wind at his back heading toward the east goalposts. The field goal for a 10-0 lead came after the Jets pass defense gave up its ninth pass of 40-plus yards this season, a 53-yarder from Joe Flacco off the play fake to Mike Wallace, beating the converging coverage of CB Buster Skrine and S Calvin Pryor to the ball at the Jets 37.
3. Q Factor The MetLife crowd woke up bigtime when Smith dropped back and hit Quincy Enunwa on a right-to-left cross — and Enunwa won the race all the way to the left pylon for a monster 69-yard touchdown pass. It was Enunwa's longest career reception, Smith's longest completion since '14, and the Jets' longest since Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Brandon Marshall for 69 yards against Tennessee last year. It sliced the deficit to 10-7 and there were still some seconds left on the first-quarter clock.
"I would love to say I did something special on that play," said Smith, "but it was all Q right there. He caught an 8-yard pass and took it to the house."
4. Tucker Tacks Two On
The Jets' defensive pressure improved but Flacco was also finding his underneath targets so the visitors moved on their third series to another field goal, this one a 49-yarder by Tucker with the wind against him. Tucker added a 44-yarder on a two-minute drive to end the half, making him 18-for-18 on the year.
5. Back to Fitz
Smith injured his knee on a third-down sack, so Ryan Fitzpatrick returned to great effect, going 4-for-4 in executing an 85-yard drive to the go-ahead TD. Key plays were a 21-yard completion over the middle to Brandon Marshall, a 30-yard end-around by Robby Anderson for the Jets' longest run of the season, and the 13-yard TD from Fitz to Forté for the 14-13 lead with 1:45 to play in the half.
Best Images from the Week 7 Matchup in MetLife Stadium
6. Takeaway Turnaround
Skrine, who struggled at Arizona, bounced back with a big play, a 51-yard interception return of a Flacco throw for Brett Perriman. The Jets took the lead three plays later on Nick Folk's 22-yard FG, 17-16. Then came a wacky exchange — another Flacco INT, this one by Marcus Gilchrist, to the Ravens 24. Forté fumbled one carry after clearing 9,000 career rushing yards, but DT Timmy Jernigan's return was pried loose and recovered by a determined Brandon Marshall, setting the Jets up 1st-and-goal at the 5.
"It was a lot like that play from last year in Cleveland," Marshall said. "Anytime I get the opportunity to be around a ball, whether it's an interception or a fumble when the other team recovers it, I'm always looking to do that. I'm just happy I was able to get it out and put our team in a really good position to score."
7. Forté Strong
Which they did three plays later as Forté strode off right tackle standing up for his second TD and become the first Jet since Thomas Jones and Leon Washington in a three-game span in 2008 to score on at least one rush and one reception in a game. He wound up with exactly 100 rushing yards, his second 100-yard game as a Jet, plus 54 receiving for a 154-yard day.
"It felt good to pop a couple of those runs in there," Forté said. "We're still waiting on getting that big long one. We ran the ball pretty efficiently in the red zone. I was proud of that."
8. Defense RoarsAfter Forté's second TD, the offense couldn't move the ball as well so the defense rose up with three consecutive 3-and-out drives. On the third one from the Ravens 19, Skrine and Pryor made tackles at the LOS on dumpoffs and then Leonard Williams brought the third-down heat to produce an incompletion.
"I'm not going to say we made a statement. I'm just saying we played a complete four quarters of defense for the first time, I think," Williams said. "We were feeding off of those 3-and-outs. The energy, you could feel it in everybody."
9. Ravens Get LifeFolk warned about the Ravens' field goal block unit, and it showed up at a bad time as DT Brandon Williams swatted down Folk's 51-yard try to make it 27-16. It was Baltimore's league-leading seventh block in the last two years, and it gave the visitors one last life from their 30 with 3:04 to play. They got to the Jets 44 before facing fourth down. Flacco loaded it up for Moore, who started the scoring almost three hours earlier. But Marcus Williams was with him stride for stride and broke the deep ball up. Then the Jets ran out the last 55 seconds for their "absolutely must-win."
10. Record Day vs. the RunWith Sheldon Richardson leading the way with a team-high eight tackles, his first full sack of the season, and three tackles for loss, the Jets run defense also rebounded from Arizona by allowing the Ravens a mere 6 yards rushing on 12 carries, breaking the single-game record they set twice last year, at New England (17 yards), then vs. Miami (12 yards).