In many ways, what Lamar Jackson and the Ravens did against the Jets defense on Thursday night was similar to what they've done to the 11 other teams they've defeated this year.
That didn't make it any easier for the Jets' defenders to swallow. LB Jordan Jenkins started out not wanting to make it sound like Jackson is super special, but in the final analysis J.J. had to agree that L.J. is right up there.
"It's just different. It's hard to prepare for that," Jenkins said of trying to slow down Jackson's foot speed and multi-threat dimension. "Then again, they came off a Sunday game, too, so they had just as much time to prepare as us.
"But I will agree that it is hard to duplicate that. At the same time, we could've played a hell of a lot better than we did out there. But I've got to give it to him — he's the real deal."
Jackson showed the Jets what he's shown to a lot of opponents in this, his breakout second season. He made his passes count as usual — he tossed five touchdown throws, to five different receivers, along with no interceptions, on a mere 15 completions. And he darted and dashed for 86 yards on 8 carries to break Michael Vick's NFL record of 1,039 rushing yards by a QB in a season.
Jets coach Adam Gase described the problem that Jackson, RB Mark Ingram and the Ravens offense present.
"Against this group, you don't want to be unsure," Gase said. "They're that fast. They run their offense well. You've got to pull the trigger, make a decision in real time. It's not easy."
The Jets' uncharacteristic unsureness against the Baltimore rushing game, which gained 218 yards on 6.4 yards/carry, made Jenkins uneasy.
"It definitely was a shot to the core, to the heart," he said. "That's something we like to pride ourselves on. It was definitely like a deep gash, letting that happen. When we saw the yards tick up, it's just like, man, that's really going to screw our numbers up. It's not something we like to represent ourselves with, what we allowed rushing today."
See Best Images from the Matchup Against the Ravens
The Jets entered this game second in the NFL with 78.8 rushing yards allowed/game and first with 3.03 yards allowed/carry. Those numbers both went up, the per-game figure to 88.8 and the per-carry to 3.34, and the rankings will sink a few notches each once all the Week 15 games have been played.
But the quantity isn't as important as the quality. Numbers rise and fall but wins remain the NFL's supreme statistic. And the Jets defense, combined with the offense that finished several important first-half drives with no points, needs to go back to the drawing board to find more consistency this year and then of course in 2020 and beyond to produce more victories and become the kind of team they want to be and that they weren't on Thursday Night Football.
"The defense," Jenkins said, "we could've played a hell of a lot better."