The Jets needed today's game at Baltimore to keep hope alive in their run into December and toward the playoffs.
The Ravens needed this game at least as bad, arguably more so. A loss at home likely would have made the defending Super Bowl champions spectators for this year's postseason.
"Obviously we knew coming here that it was going to be a tough game," head coach Rex Ryan said, "there's no doubt about that. Both teams are needing a win in the worst way and we knew that quite honestly with their defense, it was going to be tough sledding, there's no doubt."
It was another week of an ill wind blowing no good in our direction as the Ravens made all the long plays, slowly took control of the field position, and ultimately breezed past the Jets, 19-3.
The loss drops us to 5-6 for the season while raising Baltimore also to 5-6. It's our first two-game losing streak of the year and also the first time we've been under .500. We have lost our last eight against the Purple Birds, all five at M&T Bank Stadium.
The defense continues to shut down the run (31 carries, 67 yards) but give up long pass plays. However, most troubling today was the lack of any potent offense to keep pace with the desperate Ravens. The Jets offense managed 220 yards, converted only one of 12 third downs, and Geno Smith completed nine of 22 passes for 127 yards.
Baltimore Pulls Away
In a crucial third-quarter field position exchange, Sam Koch's punt was downed at the Jets 2, Smith couldn't move the offense, Ryan Quigley's decent punt was still returned by Jacoby Jones 20 yards to the Jets 33, and Justin Tucker nailed his fourth field goal of the day, just inside the left upright from 53 yards out.
Another offensive series that didn't move, another punt, and the Ravens were back at the Jets 31 after a Jones 37-yard return and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct flag on the Jets sideline for a coach running into an official trailing the punt return.
This time, though, we had a pair of minus tackles (Quinton Coples for minus-7 yards on Tyrod Taylor, Calvin Pace with his seventh sack of the year for minus-8 on Flacco). This time Koch's punt reached the end zone for a touchback.
With 5:34 left in the third quarter, we moved 38 yards into Ravens territory, not much to write home about but the second-longest drive of the day. However, on third-and-long Smith put up a punt-like pass for David Nelson that was intercepted by CB Corey Graham.
Four plays later, Flacco administered the dagger in the form of a wind-aided longball for Jones, running with Ed Reed and Dee Milliner. Jones caught up with the pass and landed in the end zone for the 66-yard strike and a 19-3 lead with five seconds left in the third quarter.
We needed an eruption along the lines of Kellen Clemens' 176 passing yards in the fourth quarter of our 2007 game in this same stadium. That quarter didn't pull out the win but it made a very interesting finish in a 20-13 loss.
Indeed, Smith led the longest drive of the day, 62 yards from our 10 to the Ravens 28. But trying to find WR Greg Salas for the TD, Geno instead found Graham there for Graham's second pick of the game with 4:15 to play.
"I thought we dropped too many balls," Rex said. "I think that's where it started offensively, and then on defense when you're playing in a game like that, you've got to be sound you've got to be good, and it has to be for 60 minutes. There's probably three or four plays that we weren't."
Close-to-the-Vest First Half
We got off to a promising start in the Inner Harbor winds on our second drive of the game with Geno Smith at QB, assisted by Josh Cribbs in the Wildcat. In fact, Cribbs hit Smith with a 13-yard completion for a first down, the first time a Jets QB had caught a pass from another player since Ken O'Brien caught a 27-yarder from Al Toon at Detroit in 1991.
After Chris Ivory adding an 18-yard run and Greg Salas catching an 18-yarder from Smith in the red zone, the Ravens defense stiffened — as it almost always has as the NFL's No. 1 red zone touchdown defense — and we had to settle for Nick Folk's 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Birds came back on their next drive, using Taylor as their Wildcat QB in place of Flacco on occasion. But the Jets defense returned the favor in their red zone and so the Ravens settled for Tucker's tying 30-yard field goal with 1:59 to play in the quarter.
Quigley got off a dandy of a punt to start the second quarter, a career-long 67-yarder with the roll, away from NFL leading punt returner Tandon Doss, and downed at the Baltimore 8. But that field position was reversed when Flacco loaded up and dropped a big throw into Torrey Smith's hands as he raced past Antonio Cromartie for a 60-yard completion.
The Ravens again drove into the red zone, in fact to first-and-goal at the Jets 10. But we held again and Tucker came on for a 26-yarder and the hosts' first lead of the game at 6-3 with 10:15 left in the first half.
The first takeaway of the game went the Ravens way as Nick Mangold's shotgun snap hit Salas, not quick enough in motioning through the formation, with Terrell Suggs pouncing on the loose ball at the Jets 18.
But two plays later the Jets got their first take of the game when Flacco threw between two of his receivers right to Antonio Cromartie for his second pick of the year to get the visitors out of trouble.
Yet only for a short while. Jones, in for Doss at punt returner, took Quigley's next kick back to the Ravens 40. Then Flacco hit TE Ed Dickson for passes of 27 and 13 yards into Jets territory. Muhammad Wilkerson got his ninth sack of the season of the scrambling Flacco, but it wasn't enough to prevent Tucker from hitting his third field goal, this one from 33 yards out right after the two-minute warming.
The Jets were certainly feeling "winded" at the half, having been outgained, 212 yards to 73, and out-first-downed, 10-3. Smith was a rough 2-for-7 passing for 21 yards.
"Poor execution all around," Geno said. "It starts with me, so I've just got to find a way. I'm definitely going to look at myself in the mirror and figure out *something *that I can do to spark this offense."