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Ravens Spoil Jets' Night in Baltimore, 24-23


2009 Preseason Week 2 Jets At Ravens Photos

Monday night's highly interesting preseason game between the Jets and the Ravens in Baltimore didn't go exactly the way Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens or the Green & White planned.

But the night, which began disastrously, ended on better terms for Ryan, who made his return to the town to play the team on whose defense he had coached for a decade. Third QB Erik Ainge led an 18-play drive to his 1-yard touchdown keeper with 22 seconds to play, then had his game-winning two-point pass for Marcus Henry tipped away by Larderius Webb.

"No problem — I've got a new home," Ryan said about how he handled his summer homecoming of sorts. "It was good to see a lot of good friends and friendly faces. But my home now is New York/New Jersey and my football team is in green and white. I'm proud of our team, the way we responded."

As for Sanchez, who similarly started slowly and finished on the uptick in the first pro start of his young Green & White career, he said, "It was good experience for a rookie, but not the way you want to start. ... It was difficult those first couple of plays, but I settled down."

One of those plays was Sanchez's first pass 30 seconds into the game and it didn't turn out nearly as well as his first pro pass in the preseason opener vs. St. Louis.

On this one, Sanchez, facing a Ray Lewis blitz up the gut, tried to back-foot a short pass to FB Tony Richardson. But the ball had neither the height nor the speed to elude the soft hands of big Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, who swallowed the interception and returned it 25 yards for a crushing touchdown right off the bat for the Birds.

"I just jumped up and it hit my stomach," the 6'4", 345-pound Ngata said. "My stomach swallowed it and I caught the ball."

Sanchez continued to scuffle on two three-and-out drives. But each series seemed to be slightly less troublesome for the rookie from Southern Cal. After one more punt, Sanchez's last drive struck paydirt. He and Leon Washington got the Jets on the M&T videoboards for the first time with a beautiful read by Sanchez and a nifty wheel route by Washington on LB Jameel McClain for the 19-yard score to cut the Jets' deficit to 14-7.

:As soon as we got our tempo going, our running game going, we came back after taking a bit hit on a fumble, threw a touchdown," Sanchez said. "That's the way you want to respond."

"I knew Leon was good, but he's even better than I thought," Ryan said after watching Washington compile 181 all-purpose yards, which included receptions of 19 and 16 yards, a 15-yard run, four of the Jets' six first-half first downs, and a 52-yard kickoff return. "Whoo! He's a little stud."

That TD play was Sanchez's last for the night as Clemens came in with 2:34 left in the first half. The rookie's passing numbers were 3-for-8 for 43 yards, the TD and the INT, and his five series, 25 plays in all, produced seven points, a turnover and three punts.

Clemens' third pass of the night was as devastating as Sanchez's first. Getting the ball at the Jets 11 after a booming Sam Koch punt, KC, with Ngata crashing into his kitchen, tried to get a short pass to Brad Smith. But McClain, beaten on the Washington touchdown, repaid his debt to the Ravens and their fans by snapping up the flutterer and taking it 16 yards for Baltimore's second defensive score of the night.

"Obviously, the interception to finish the first half was disappointing," Clemens said. "We had a little miscommunication with the routes underneath. On a positive note, I did like how we responded."

True, staring at a 21-7 halftime deficit could have crushed another team, but the Jets, with the help of defensive and special teams takeaways, climbed back into the competition, and they started with the second-half kickoff.

On that play, the Ravens' Webb was trying to pull away from Dwight Lowery. But Lowery, who forced five fumbles on defense as a rookie last season, did it again, bringing his hand down on Webb's arm and the ball. The leather popped free and Marques Murrell was waiting for the midair recovery on the Ravens 29.

Two plays later, David Clowney made his first noteworthy appearance of the game. He got past CB Frank Walker at the line and gathered in Clemens' fade at the goal line to cut it to 21-14.

Next came two picks of Ravens QB Troy Smith. The first, by S James Ihedigbo, didn't count — there were three penalties on the play, two by the Jets and one by the Ravens. By rule, they all offset and the home team retained the ball.

Three plays later, Smith overthrew his man and Marquice Cole, who's had a strong summer in a bid to nail down a spot in the Jets' secondary, snared the ball as it started to sail past him and returned it 25 yards to the Baltimore 39.

That was a good staging position for Parker Douglass (doing all the kickoffs and placekicks for Jay Feely, who stayed home to continue to rest and rehab his sore groin) to put through his first field goal as a pro.

With 51 seconds left in the third quarter, Clemens departed and it was Ainge's turn.

Looking at Clemens' numbers — 5-for-10 passing for 60 yards, a TD and an INT, and six drives (19 plays) for 10 points, a punt, an INT, a loss on downs and an end of half — they were very similar to Sanchez's stats. The QB competition may well continue into the week ahead and into Saturday night's "road" game against the Giants at the Meadowlands.

"I didn't think I was going to announce it one way or the other tonight," Ryan said.

Cole, a hero a few minutes earlier, was beaten on a second-and-18 bomb from Troy Smith, firing from his end zone, to second-year WR Justin Harper down the right sideline for 51 yards. That led to a 42-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka that opened the Ravens' lead back to 24-17 midway through the final frame.

But then Ainge marched the Jets 26 to the touchdown that almost pulled the game out.

Almost overlooked in this game was the Jets' first defense. Aside from a 43-yard completion from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason, the D gave up 117 yards and seven points in the first half.

"We gave up a couple of deep balls. The run defense was better," Ryan assessed. "We'll see. We've got two decent players added to the mix pretty soon [Darrelle Revis and Kris Jenkins]. We'll see what happens in the first game. Judge us by what happens in the regular season."

Game Notes

Sanchez took a knee to his helmet on his missed handoff with Leon Washington. He was shaken up on the play but stayed in the game. ... Rookie RB Shonn Greene took a shot to his ribs at the end of his third-quarter 15-yard reception, but Ryan said nothing was broken, just tender. ... LG Alan Faneca and RT Damien Woody were both thought to be out of this game. Woody was a scratch, but Faneca, with his broken finger securely protected, started and played through the first half. ... Woody was replaced initially by Mike Kracalik, the big tackle who spent some time over the previous four seasons on the Ravens. Ryan also named Kracalik one of his game captains. After one series, Kracalik came out and Wayne Hunter went in. ... Feely tweeted that "coach wants me to be 100% week one. Just being prudent."

Washington's 181 yards equaled Jesse Chatman's all-purpose yards at Philadelphia a year ago for the most by a Jet in the last 20 preseasons. ... The Jets' defense had four sacks for the second preseason game. ... The 21 first-half points were the second-most allowed by the Jets in the last 12 preseasons. The most was Minnesota's 24 first-half points in 2007. ... The Vikings also were the last team to return two INTs for TDs in the preseason vs. the Jets. The villains that night were S Darren Sharper and LB Chad Greenway, who produced 14 points off their first-quarter thefts of Chad Pennington.

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